Prognostic factors associated with clinical outcomes of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients with central nervous system (CNS) involvement are unknown. We retrospectively studied the characteristics and outcomes of 66 (18 pediatric and 48 adult) patients with CNS leukemia with ALL (n = 41) or AML (n = 25). The median age of patients at diagnosis of CNS leukemia was 30 (range, 1–69) years. Nearly two-third patients had CNS involvement at the initial diagnosis of leukemia. Complete remission of CNS leukemia was attained in 58 (88%) patients, and probability of overall survival at 36 months after the diagnosis of CNS leukemia was 43% for the entire cohort. We identified that achieving remission of systemic leukemia and having CNS leukemia diagnosed and treated before allogeneic transplantation were the factors associated with CNS leukemia remission. Prognostic factors associated with better overall survival in patients with CNS leukemia included pediatric age, diagnosis of CNS leukemia before receiving allogenic transplantation, achieving clearance of systemic or CNS leukemia, receiving no cranial radiation in conjunction with intrathecal chemotherapy (IT), and receiving IT consolidation after achieving remission of CNS leukemia. Our findings show that patients with CNS leukemia are at considerable risk of mortality. Awareness of modifiable prognostic factors such as avoidance of cranial radiation whenever possible and use of IT consolidation can result in improved outcomes in subset of patients with CNS leukemia.
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