Systemic high-dose ara-C for the treatment of meningeal leukemia in adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

E. Morra, M. Lazzarino, D. Inverardi, E. Brusamolino, E. Orlandi, A. Canevari, G. Pagnucco, C. Bernasconi

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Considering the good penetration of systemic high-dose ara-C (HDara-C) into the CNS, the authors used this approach for treating overt meningeal leukemia, either isolated or with concurrent extraneurologic disease, in 15 adults with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), one adult with lymphoid blast crisis of chronic granulocytic leukemia (LBC-CGL), and four adults with poor-prognosis non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). Treatment consisted of ara-C, 3 g/m2 every 12 hours by three-hour infusion for eight doses followed by a second course of four doses on day 21. Remitters received consolidation with monthly courses of HDara-C for four doses. Additional systemic multidrug reinduction therapy and direct CNS treatment with intrathecal methotrexate (IT MTX) and cranial irradiation (CRT) was administered to the three remitters last treated. Thirteen of 20 patients (65%) achieved complete remission (CR): seven of seven patients with isolated meningeal leukemia and six of 13 patients with concurrent CNS and bone marrow disease. Of the remaining seven patients, five had a complete CSF clearing with persistent marrow disease. In all cases there was prompt resolution of neurologic signs and symptoms. The median duration of CR was 5 months (range 2 to 8 months). The most significant toxicity seen was myelosuppression, which was predictable and manageable. Nonhematologic toxicity was generally acceptable and included moderate nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, drug fever, transient liver dysfunction, and dermatitis. No cases of CNS toxicity occurred. There were no treatment-related deaths. Disease-free survival was limited by marrow relapse, either isolated or with concurrent CNS disease. No instances of isolated meningeal relapse occurred. These results obtained in a poor-risk subset of patients indicate that HDara-C is an effective treatment for the induction of remission in ALL and NHL with meningeal leukemia. Therefore, HDara-C should be considered for inclusion in multiagent consolidation programs for patients at high risk for CNS disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207-1211
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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