Treating Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Brazil—Increased Early Mortality Using a German Multicenter Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia-based regimen

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Studying adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in developing countries is essential, because few reports are available. We performed a retrospective medical record review of the adapted German Multicenter ALL regimen encompassing 59 patients treated in Brazil. A disappointing long-term survival rate of 15.3% was found, demonstrating that every regimen must be adjusted to a given population to avoid unacceptable toxicity.


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in adults is an invariably aggressive and rare disease. Its treatment is based on the use of multidrug regimens, which have been improved since the 1970s. Few published data are available on the results of adult ALL treatment in Latin America.

Materials and Methods:

We retrospectively analyzed the data from 59 patients with ALL treated from 2009 to 2015 at Hospital of Clinics of University of São Paulo, using an adapted German Multicenter ALL (GMALL) protocol (07/2003).


The median patient age was 35 years (range, 16-71 years), with 76% of new cases of B-cell lineage. Central nervous system involvement was present in 29%. Most patients were in the high-risk group, using the original GMALL criteria (68%). The early death rate was 17%, preventing early evaluation of the response in these patients. Despite a reasonable complete remission rate (76%), most patients eventually died of sepsis, especially during the induction phase and salvage regimens. The median overall survival was 17 months.


Intensified chemotherapy protocols for adult ALL have succeeded in achieving better survival rates in adults, especially younger adults. The low overall survival found with GMALL in Brazil's public hospital denotes the importance of optimizing the adaptations of international protocols for treatment of ALL in nondeveloped countries and, in parallel, improving supportive care in public services.

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