Measuring response to leukemia treatment may save more lives

Ching-Hon Pui, MD

Measuring the number of leukemia cells in patient bone marrow early in treatment helps boost patient survival. Now St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists have shown how to use this test to match patients with the right intensity of chemotherapy.

St. Jude researchers were the first to use this test to help guide treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). ALL is the most common childhood leukemia. The method helped a record 93.5% of young ALL patients become long-term survivors.

“This proved to be a powerful way to identify high-risk patients who needed more intensive chemotherapy and helped us avoid over-treatment of low-risk patients,” said Ching-Hon Pui, MD, chair of the St. Jude Department of Oncology.

Two measurements – taken at days 19 and 46 of therapy – were enough to guide treatment for most patients.

The study appeared in Lancet Oncology.

March 19, 2015

Read the news release