Long term survival of children with burkitt lymphoma in Malawi after cyclophosphamide monotherapy

Kazembe P. ; Hesseling P.B. ; Griffin B.E. ; Lampert I. ; Wessels G. (2003)


Background. Between 1991 and 1997, limited funding at times restricted available treatment for children with Burkitt lymphoma (BL) to cyclophosphamide (CPM) monotherapy at Lilongwe Central Hospital, Malawi. Our objective was to assess long-term survival in Malawian children with Burkitt lymphoma (BL) who had received one or more treatments with intravenous CPM at 40 mg/kg/dose at 14-day intervals. Procedure and Results. The study population consisted of 92 children in whom BL had been confirmed on fine needle aspirates (FNA), a home address had been documented on discharge from hospital, and the treatment records could be verified. Only the clinical site(s) of disease had been recorded. The M:F ratio was 1.4 and median age 8 years. A clinical officer on motorcycle attempted to locate the given addresses and interview parents or other sources. In 19 patients, the address was incorrect. Of 73 evaluable patients, 40 children are alive at a mean follow-up time of 59 (range: 29-104) months. The survival rate was 63.5% in 52 children with BL of the head only, and 33.3% in 21 children with primary disease involving the abdomen or other sites. Survivors had received a median number of 6 (range: 1-12), non-survivors 4 (range: 1-12), and untraceable children 3 (range: 1-11) courses of CPM. Conclusions. We confirmed that CPM could cure children with facial and abdominal BL. The unavoidable bias in the selection of patients and the variable amount of CPM given, precludes accurate survival estimates. A prospective study with proper staging, assessment of FNA, marrow and cerebrospinal fluid with modern techniques, a standard treatment protocol, and adequate follow-up will better define the current therapeutic value of CPM monotherapy. CPM can be purchased at about 3 US dollars per 500 mg. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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