Monitoring residual disease in acute lymphoblastic leukemia: therapeutic implications

Cytokines Mol Ther. 1995 Mar;1(1):65-9.


The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been applied to detect occult leukemia (ALL) cells in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who are otherwise considered in complete remission by traditional morphological examination of bone marrow specimens. The combined data from the clinical studies published to date suggest that a consistent pattern for residual disease disappearance over many months exists for patients who remain in complete remission for an extended period of time. Conversely, a pattern of residual disease persistence and reappearance preceding clinical findings exists for the majority of patients who ultimately relapse. The ability to detect residual ALL disease near the end of chemotherapy or after the completion of treatment in some patients who otherwise are deemed likely to be cured of their malignancy raises the possibility that mechanisms other than leukemia cell cytotoxicity are influencing the outcome for this disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm, Residual
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / diagnosis*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / drug therapy*
  • Recurrence


  • Antineoplastic Agents