Characterization of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia survival patterns by age at diagnosis

J Cancer Epidemiol. 2014:2014:865979. doi: 10.1155/2014/865979. Epub 2014 Sep 17.


Age at diagnosis is a key prognostic factor in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) survivorship. However, literature providing adequate assessment of the survival variability by age at diagnosis is scarce. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of this prognostic factor in pediatric ALL survival. We estimated incidence rate of mortality, 5-year survival rate, Kaplan-Meier survival function, and hazard ratio using the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data during 1973-2009. There was significant variability in pediatric ALL survival by age at diagnosis. Survival peaked among children diagnosed at 1-4 years and steadily declined among those diagnosed at older ages. Infants (<1 year) had the lowest survivorship. In a multivariable Cox proportional hazard model stratified by year of diagnosis, those diagnosed in age groups 1-4, 5-9, 10-14, and 15-19 years were 82%, 75%, 57%, and 32% less likely to die compared to children diagnosed in infancy, respectively. Age at diagnosis remained to be a crucial determinant of the survival variability of pediatric ALL patients, after adjusting for sex, race, radiation therapy, primary tumor sites, immunophenotype, and year of diagnosis. Further research is warranted to disentangle the effects of age-dependent biological and environmental processes on this association.