Survival rates for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)—the most common form of childhood cancer—have increased to about 90 percent, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Researchers across the country studied the outcomes of more than 21,000 children and adolescents with ALL, a cancer in which the body produces too many abnormal white blood cells, which can be fatal. The patients examined were enrolled in the Children’s Oncology Group’s clinical trials between 1990 and 2005 and represented more than half of all patients aged 0 to 22 diagnosed with ALL in the U.S. The researchers found that the five-year survival rate increased from 83.7 percent to 90.4 percent for participants enrolled between 1990 and 1994 compared to those enrolled between 2000 and 2005. In comparison, the five-year survival rate for ALL in the 1960s was less than 10 percent.
The improvement occurred in boys and girls across all racial groups and ages, except for infants less than a year old. Researchers attribute the increase in survival rates to fewer instances of relapse thanks to better drug regimens developed in clinical trials during the past couple of decades.