At the intersection between children and older adults, the care of adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) poses unique challenges and issues beyond those faced by other age groups. Although the survival of AYA patients is inferior to younger children, growing evidence suggests that AYA patients have improved outcomes, with disease-free survival rates of 60% to 70%, when treated with pediatric-based approaches. A holistic approach, incorporating a multidisciplinary team, is a key component of successful treatment of these AYA patients. With the appropriate support and management of toxicities during and following treatment, these regimens are well tolerated in the AYA population. Even with the significant progress that has been made during the last decade, patients with persistence of minimal residual disease (MRD) during intensive therapy still have a poor prognosis. With new insights into disease pathogenesis in AYA ALL and the availability of disease-specific kinase inhibitors and novel targeted antibodies, future studies will focus on individualized therapy to eradicate MRD and result in further improvements in survival. This case-based review will discuss the biology, pharmacology, and psychosocial aspects of AYA patients with ALL, highlighting our current approach to the management of these unique patients.
© 2015 by The American Society of Hematology.