Twenty adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL) received a regimen employing two courses of mitoxantrone 12 mg/m2 by rapid intravenous infusion on days 1, 2 and 3 and cytosine arabinoside (ARA-C) 200 mg/m2/day by continuous infusion on days 1-7. Complete remission (CR) was achieved in 10 of 20 (50%) patients (3 refractory and 7 relapsed). Median duration of CR was 5 months (range 2-9). The treatment was associated with minimal extrahematologic toxicity, with no cardiac toxicity. Our results are nearly in line with therapeutic responses obtained with regimens employing megadose therapy (HD ARA-C). Because of acceptable toxicity, mitoxantrone plus continuous infusion of a standard dose of ARA-C could be considered for relapsed of refractory ALL patients eligible for an intensive therapeutic approach (bone marrow transplantation) after a second CR.

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