Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) is an aggressive peripheral T cell neoplasm caused by human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I with very poor prognosis. The relationship between chemotherapy dose intensity and clinical outcome of ATL in clinical practice remains unclear.

Patients and methods

To elucidate the clinical characteristics and outcome of ATL patients, we retrospectively analyzed 118 patients diagnosed with ATL at 7 institutes in Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan from 2010 to 2012. There were 67 males and 51 females. The median age of the patients was 70 years (range 44–92). Subtypes included acute- (n=85) and lymphoma-type (n=33). One hundred one patients were treated with one of the below combination chemotherapy: (1) VCAP-AMP-VECP (LSG15); (2) CHOP (including pirarubicin (THP)-COP); and (3) non-LSG15, non-CHOP regimen. The prognostic value of the recently proposed prognostic index for ATL, namely ATL-PI (Katsuya et al. J Clin Oncol. 2012), was evaluated in this cohort. Relative dose intensity (RDI) during the first 12 weeks of therapy was calculated based on the standard regimen. Average RDI (ARDI) for LSG15 and CHOP was calculated.


The median survival time (MST), 1- and 2-years overall survival (OS) rates of the entire cohort were 8.5 months, 35.3% and 23.0%, respectively. MSTs of patients less than 70 years and patients 70 years or older were 11.8 and 5.7 months, respectively (p=0.03). MSTs among all age groups for acute- and lymphoma- type were 8.3 and 10.0 months, respectively (p=0.445). Although ATL-PI could efficiently discriminate high-risk patients, it failed to separate the intermediate- and low-risk patients in this cohort. As almost all patients in this cohort were stage III or IV, ATL-PI was modified to exclude the Ann Arbor stage from variables. This modified ATL-PI could stratify our cohort into three distinct risk groups. MSTs were 3.9, 10.9, and 18.1 months for patients in high, intermediate, and low risk groups, respectively (P < 0.01).

Among this cohort, 38 patients have received LSG15 and 47 patients received CHOP. Variables known to affect outcome were similar in both groups, except the age. MSTs were 11.5 and 8.1 months for patients treated with LSG15 and CHOP, respectively (p=0.206). As the median age of CHOP group is about 10 years greater than that of LSG15 group, we examined the MST in each therapy group according to the age. The MSTs for less than 70 years old were 11.7 and 21.9 months for patients treated with LSG15 and CHOP, respectively (p=0.311). Similarly, the MSTs for 70 years or older were 8.6 and 5.5 months for patients treated with LSG15 and CHOP, respectively (p=0.142). In practice, we conclude that CHOP is still a standard therapy for ATL.

We next examined the RDI in each therapy groups and its relationship with OS. During the first 12 weeks, 73.7% of patients treated with LSG15 received ≥50% of planned DI, whereas 50.0% of patients treated with CHOP received ≥50% of planned DI. MSTs were significantly longer in patients treated with higher ARDI (≥50%) than that in patients with lower ARDI (<50%) (14.7 vs. 6.2 months for LSG15; p<0.01, 19.0 vs. 4.0 months for CHOP; p<0.01).


Our modified ATL-PI excluding the Ann Arbor stage from variables in original ATL-PI may have prognostic value for patients with ATL. In the daily practice in Japan, no superiority of LSG15 compared to CHOP could be demonstrated both in young and elderly patient groups. Reduced ARDI in the first line chemotherapy for ATL is pervasive. Considering the significantly poor outcome of patients treated with ARDI less than 50%, changes in therapy with alternative strategy such as applying mogamulizumab, relatively early in the course of treatment, may improve outcome.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.