Since July 2008, children and adults 1-45 years, diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in Denmark have been treated according to the common Nordic Society for Paediatric Haematology and Oncology ALL2008 protocol. To explore whether this strategy will improve survival compared with historical controls, we performed a retrospective national population-based study of adult ALL between 1998 and 2008. Patients were identified through the Danish Patobank and the Danish Cancer Registry; data was collected from patient files, and included 277 patients (median age, 47 years, range 15-91 years). The 5-year projected event-free survival (pEFS(5y)) and overall survival (pOS(5y)) for the whole cohort was 27·5% [95% confidence interval (CI) 22·4-33·6] and 34·1% (95% CI 28·7-40·4), respectively. No patient above 65 years survived beyond 5 years from diagnosis. For patients receiving curatively intended treatment, the pEFS(5y) and pOS(5y) were 36·6% and 44·1%, respectively, with a significantly higher pOS(5y) for patients 15-35 years compared with patients 36-65 years (50·7% vs. 38·9%, P = 0·006). Cox multiple regression analysis identified age (Hazard Ratio = 1·7, P < 0·006) as a statistically significant predictor of EFS. The cure rates, not least for the elderly, are unacceptably low, and call for new strategies in the treatment of adult ALL in all age groups.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.