The outcomes of children with relapsed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are known to be poor, but remain obscure. We retrospectively analyzed 71 patients who had relapsed following first-line treatment under the AML99 protocol. We investigated the time and site of recurrence, response to re-induction therapy, and performance of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in relapsed cases, and performed a multivariate analysis to identify prognostic factors. The 5-year overall-survival (OS) rate after relapse was 37 %. Of 71 patients, three died without any anti-leukemic therapy and two underwent allogeneic HSCT. The remaining 66 patients received re-induction chemotherapy, and 33 (50 %) achieved second CR (CR2). Twenty-two of 25 (88 %) late relapse patients and 11 of 41 (27 %) early relapse patients achieved CR2 (P < 0.001). Twenty-nine CR2 cases and 35 non-CR2 cases underwent allogeneic HSCT. The 5-year OS rate was significantly higher in patients who underwent HSCT in CR2 than those in non-CR2 (66 vs. 17 %, P < 0.000001). Multivariate analysis indicated that early relapse (P < 0.05) and the positivity of the FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3-internal tandem duplication (P < 0.05) were adverse prognostic factors for survival. In conclusion, the etiology of relapsed pediatric AML needs to be elucidated and effective chemotherapy should be administered to obtain CR2.
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