How I treat T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in adults

Blood. 2015 Aug 13;126(7):833-41. doi: 10.1182/blood-2014-10-551895. Epub 2015 May 12.


T-cell immunophenotype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an uncommon aggressive leukemia that can present with leukemic and/or lymphomatous manifestations. Molecular studies are enhancing our understanding of the pathogenesis of T-ALL, and the discovery of activating mutations of NOTCH1 and FBXW7 in a majority of patients has been a seminal observation. The use of pediatric intensive combination chemotherapy regimens in adolescents and young adults has significantly improved the outcome of patients with T-ALL. The use of nelarabine for relapsed and refractory T-ALL results in responses in a substantial minority of patients. Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) still plays a key role in patients with high-risk or relapsed/refractory disease. γ-Secretase inhibitors hold promise for the treatment of patients with NOTCH1 mutations, and the results of clinical trials with these agents are eagerly awaited. It is recommended that younger patients receive a pediatric-intensive regimen. Older and unfit patients can receive suitable multiagent chemotherapy and be allocated to HCT based on their response, risk factors, and comorbidities. Although advances in the treatment of T-ALL have lagged behind those of B-cell ALL, it is hoped that the molecular revolution will enhance our understanding of the pathogenesis and treatment of this aggressive lymphoid malignancy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Algorithms
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Child
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Drugs, Investigational / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Precursor T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / drug therapy*
  • Precursor T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology
  • Precursor T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Young Adult


  • Drugs, Investigational