Because of the rarity of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) in children and adolescents, only few studies reported on efficacity and tolerance of imatinib in the pediatric population and scant data are available regarding long-term follow-up. The aim of our analysis was to assess, the long-term efficacity and safety of imatinib in children with CML in early chronic phase included in the French multicentric prospective Glivec Phase IV trial (Millot et al, J Clin Oncol 2011).


Children aged 0 to 18 years with newly diagnosis CML in chronic phase were eligible to received daily imatinib 260 mg/m² according the trial. Long-term analysis included overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), response to treatment and adverse events.


Between March 2004 and December 2008, 44 patients (median age 13.4 years; range 0.8 - 16.7 years) were included in the trial. As of April 2019, with a median follow-up of 10.6 years (range 1.8 - 13.4 years), 2 patients (pts) progressed to blastic crisis and only one death was recorded. The median age was 21.8 years (range 9.3 - 28.8 years) at the last follow-up. The median duration of imatinib therapy was 10.5 years (range 0.2 - 12.5 years) for the entire cohort. To date, 13 pts (29.5%) are still treated with imatinib. Thirty-one pts (70.5%) had discontinued first line treatment with imatinib after a median time of treatment of 2.4 years (range 0.2 - 10.6 years) for the following reasons: 10 pts did not achieve major molecular response (MMR), 1 pt developed blast crisis, 2 pts had unsatisfactory level of molecular response (MR) according to the clinician, 10 pts lost their response (loss of complete hematological response n=1, complete cytogenetic response [CCR] n=6 and MMR n=3), 4 pts attempted treatment free remission (TFR), 3 pts were intolerant to imatinib and 1 pt stopped because of pregnancy. Among these 31 pts who discontinued imatinib, 2 pts are still in TFR, and 29 pts switched to a second line therapy: second generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (2TKI) (n=25), allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) (n=3), polychemotherapy (n=1). Sixteen of these 31 pts (51.6%) required subsequent lines of therapy including a second pt who transformed to blastic crisis under a second line therapy with dasatinib. Overall 11 pts (25%) underwent HSCT.

Overall, regarding the best response, during the study follow-up 11 pts (25%) achieved MMR after a median time of 2.3 years (range 0.8-5.1), 7 pts (13.6%) achieved MR4 after a median time of 5.1 years (range 2.5-7.8), 25 pts (56.8%) achieved MR4.5 after a median time of 2.92 years (range 1.1-10.4) and 1 pt (2.3%) achieved CCR only. At last follow-up, 43 out the 44 pts were alive : 3 pts (7%) were in CCR, 12 pts (27.9%) in MMR, 6 pts (13.9%) in MR4 and 22 pts (51.2%) in MR4.5. Among the 13 pts still treated with imatinib, 1 pt (7.7%) was in CCR, 6 pts (14%) in MMR, 3 pts (23.1%) were in MR4 and 3 pts (23.1%) in MR4.5. Among the 11 transplanted patients, all pts except one are alive, in at least MR4.5. The death was related to post transplant infection. On an intention to treat basis, the 10-year OS of 44 patients treated was 97.7% (CI 95% 93.3-100). The 10-year PFS was 95.5% (CI 95% 89.3-100).

We collected also the long-term safety of imatinib in the 25 pts who have received this therapy for more than 4 years. Newly occurring or worsening grade 3 or 4 hematologic or biochemical adverse events were infrequent after 4 years of imatinib. There is a decrease in the frequency of hematologic and extra hematologic sides effects reported during the first year and those reported after the fourth year of treatment with imatinib: musculoskeletal events 80 vs 24% (p<0,0001), abdominal pain 44% vs 16% (p=0,03), nausea 48% vs 16% (p=0,02), diarrhea 24% vs 0% (p=0,01) and neutropenia 84% vs 28% (p<0,0001), respectively. Conversely, the incidence of lymphopenia appeared with duration of imatinib treatment (p=0,04).

Conclusion: With more than 10 years of follow-up, we showed that imatinib remains effective in one third of children included in the Glivec phase IV study with acceptable adverse effects and a low impact over time. Despite the notable proportion of switches, the OS and the PFS remain satisfactory in this pediatric cohort.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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