Background: The administration of intensive, risk-adapted multiagent chemotherapy has markedly improved the event-free survival in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Current treatment protocols may achieve complete remission rates of more than 95% and event-free survival rates of approximately 70% in non-B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia/non-B-Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients. Due to a higher proliferation rate and aggressiveness of B-cells treatment of B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia/B-Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma must be more intensive, but can be shorter to attain similar event-free survival rates.
Methods: Between 1984 and 1993 79 primarily admitted patients up to 18 years of age (range 0.6-17.9 years) received therapy according to the treatment protocols ALL A 84, ALL 86, NHL 86, ALL 90 and NHL 90 of the Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster Study Group. Intensive phases of treatment were given on an inpatient basis with maximum supportive care in order to achieve the prescribed doses.
Results: Median follow-up time from diagnosis is now 8 years (range 40 to 157 months) with a probability of event-free survival of 92% for the entire group.
Conclusion: Multiagent chemotherapy tailored to the individual risk profile of each patient but given in the prescribed dose is currently the mainstay to achieve high complete remission rates with the aim to cure most acute lymphoblastic leukemia/Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients. The administration of intensive supportive care is important for the achievement of complete drug dosage and for the reduction of therapy-related toxicity.