Skip to Content

Publications

MD Anderson Zeros in on Better Way to Predict Prognosis in Pediatric Leukemia Patients

CCH Newsletter - Summer 2010


Patrick Zweidler-McKay, M.D. Ph.D., assistant professor at the Children’s Cancer Hospital, was the first author on a study about a way to more accurately predict treatment outcomes in young leukemia patients using information from a common and simple complete blood count test, also known as a CBC.

The results of a retrospective study were reported at the American Society of Pediatric Hematology Oncology’s (ASPHO) annual meeting held in April. The study illustrated that the minimal residual disease (MRD) indicator and the absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) together help physicians better predict which patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) will remain disease free and who will most likely relapse.

For several years, MRD has been the best prognostic tool used to predict whether a patient was at high risk for relapse. At the 2007 ASPHO annual meeting, Zweidler-McKay reported that the ALC count can also be influential in predicting prognosis of pediatric leukemia patients. In this current study, results showed that ALC is as powerful as MRD, if not more, in independently predicting prognosis for children with ALL. By using ALC as a prognostic tool along with MRD, researchers were able to define a subgroup of patients who are more prone to relapse but were originally overlooked based on using MRD alone to predict prognosis.

“MRD is an important tool for predicting prognosis,” says Zweidler-McKay, “but it misses a subgroup of patients who, despite having low MRD, still are at high risk of relapse. Using the ALC information, we can define which patients fall into this category. Down the line, we hope this information will allow us to alter treatment to help prevent these patients from relapsing.”


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center