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Mitoxantrone Versus Liposomal Daunorubicin in Induction of Pediatric AML With Risk Stratification Based on Flow Cytometry Measurement of Residual Disease.

PURPOSE: Measurable residual disease (MRD) by using flow cytometry after induction therapy is strongly prognostic in pediatric AML, and hematopoietic stem-cell transplant (hSCT) may counteract a poor response. We designed a phase III study with intensified response-guided induction and MRD-based risk stratification and treated poor induction response with hSCT. The efficacy of liposomal daunorubicin (DNX) in induction was compared with mitoxantrone.

METHODS: The study planned to randomly assign 300 patients, but the production of DNX ceased in 2017. One hundred ninety-four patients were randomly assigned to mitoxantrone or experimental DNX in induction 1. Ninety-three non-randomly assigned patients served as an observation cohort. Primary end point was fraction of patients with MRD <0.1% on day 22 after induction 1. Patients with MRD ≥15% after induction 1 or ≥0.1% after induction 2 or FLT3 -ITD with NPM1 wildtype were stratified to high-risk therapy, including hSCT.

RESULTS: Outcome for all 287 children was good with 5-year event-free survival (EFS5y ) 66.7% (CI, 61.4 to 72.4) and 5-year overall survival (OS5y ) 79.6% (CI, 75.0 to 84.4). Overall, 75% were stratified to standard-risk and 19% to high-risk. There was no difference in the proportion of patients with MRD <0.1% on day 22 after induction 1 (34% mitoxantrone, etoposide, araC [MEC], 30% DNX, P = .65), but the proportion increased to 61% for MEC versus 47% for DNX ( P = .061) at the last evaluation before induction 2. EFS5y was significantly lower, 56.6% (CI, 46.7 to 66.5) versus 71.9% (CI, 63.0 to 80.9), and cumulative incidence of relapse (CIR) was higher, 35.1% (CI, 25.7 to 44.7) versus 18.8% (CI, 11.6 to 27.2) for DNX. The inferior outcome for DNX was only in standard-risk patients with EFS5y 55.3% (CI, 45.1 to 67.7) versus 79.9% (CI, 71.1 to 89.9), CIR 39.5% (CI, 28.4 to 50.3) versus 18.7% (CI, 10.5 to 28.7), and OS5y 76.2% (CI, 67.2 to 86.4) versus 88.6% (CI, 81.4 to 96.3). As-treated analyses, including the observation cohort, supported these results. For all high-risk patients, 85% received hSCT, and EFS5y was 77.7 (CI, 67.3 to 89.7) and OS5y was 83.0 (CI, 73.5 to 93.8).

CONCLUSION: The intensification of induction therapy with risk stratification on the basis of response to induction and hSCT for high-risk patients led to improved outcomes. Mitoxantrone had a superior anti-leukemic effect than liposomal daunorubicin.

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