Since the successful introduction of all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) and its combination with anthracycline-containing chemotherapy, the prognosis for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) has markedly improved. With ATRA and anthracycline-based-chemotherapy, the complete remission rate is greater than 90%, and the long-term survival rate is 70-89%. Moreover, arsenic trioxide (ATO), which was introduced for APL treatment in 1994, resulted in excellent remission rates in relapsed patients with APL, and more recently, several clinical studies have been designed to explore its role in initial therapy either alone or in combination with ATRA. APL is a rare disease in children and is frequently associated with hyperleukocytosis, which is a marker for higher risk of relapse and an increased incidence of microgranular morphology. The frequency of occurrence of the promyelocytic leukemia/ retinoic acid receptor-alpha (PML/RARa) isoforms bcr 2 and bcr 3 is higher in children than in adults. Although recent clinical studies have reported comparable long-term survival rates in patients with APL, therapy for APL in children is challenging because of the risk of early death and the potential long-term cardiac toxicity resulting from the need to use high doses of anthracyclines. Additional prospective, randomized, large clinical trials are needed to address several issues in pediatric APL and to possibly minimize or eliminate the need for chemotherapy by combining ATRA and ATO. In this review article, we discuss the molecular pathogenesis, diagnostic progress, and most recent therapeutic advances in the treatment of children with APL.
- Acute promyelocytic leukemia
- Arsenic trioxide