The treatment of pediatric lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL) has developed in parallel with treatment strategies for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia using a BFM backbone. The excellent results of the NHL/BFM 90 trial prompted us to design this randomized factorial study to determine whether a regimen without high dose methotrexate (HDMTX) the CCG BFM will result in the same outcome as NHL/BFM-90 and whether intensification with anthracycline and cyclophosphamide would further improve disease free survival.

From June 2000 to October 2005, 257 patients with Murphy’s Stage III and IV (excluding CNS disease) LL were randomized to one of the four regimens. All regimens used the BFM/NHL95 backbone. The CCG BFM regimen had intrathecal (IT) methotrexate throughout interim maintenance and maintenance without IV methotrexate. The NHL BFM utilized I.V. Methotrexate 5 Gms/m2 and intrathecal MTX every 2 weeks for four doses during interim maintenance without further intrathecal MTX during maintenance. One of each backbone regimens was further intensified with anthracycline and cyclophosphamide early in induction and delayed intensification.

The median age was 10.3 years, 195 (76%) were males; 43 (17%) had >5% bone marrow involvement. Twelve patients with CNS disease were not randomized and received intensification and HD HDMTX with delayed CNS radiation (data not reported here).

Major toxicities have been related to bone marrow suppression with 4 toxic deaths, 3 due to sepsis and 1 from cerebral hemorrhage. The frequency of grade III/IV neutropenia (alone, with fever or with infection), anemia, and thrombocytopenia were higher in the intensified arms during induction. Three of the four toxic deaths occurred on the intensified arms. The three years EFS of the HDMTX vs. none is 84.5% ± .3.5% vs. 82.7± 3.8 (ρ= 0.93) and the intensification vs. none is 83.4% ±3.7 vs 83.0% ± 3.6 (ρ= 0.66). Therefore, there was no significant difference between treatment arms.

These results suggest that neither HDMTX nor early intensification improves EFS in LL. Future direction should focus on identifying biological factors early in therapy so alternative therapies may be investigated.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Acknowledgments: Funding provided by Grant #CCG-CA-13539 and #POGCA- 30969 (2000–2003) and Grant #U10-CA-98543 (2003–2007).

Author notes

Corresponding author