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Impact of the National Medical Access Childhood Cancer Program on the survival of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in the Philippines.


Vincent B. Aguilar,
Ana Patricia Alcasabas,
Julius Lecciones ,
Corazon Ngelangel,
Olivia Sison

Related Institution

Department of Pediatrics/Bicol Cancer Center/Section of Hematology-Oncology - Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital - Department of Health

Publication Information

Publication Type
Thesis Degree
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
Publication Date
June 2018


Background: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) survival in the Philippines remains poor due to poor access to treatment. Financial constraints, particularly out of pocket expenses for chemotherapy drugs are a main barrier. In 2012, a program for free ALL chemotherapy was implemented in the three (3) pediatric cancer units and thirteen (15) hospitals nationwide. We review the program's impact on ALL outcomes.

 Methods: Multi-center, retrospective study of newly diagnosed ALL patients from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2015. Study end-point was December 23, 2017.

 Results:  All 1340 patients' charts enrolled in the program were reviewed and analyzed. Diagnosis was based on immunophenotyping in 697 (52%) and morphology in 643 (48%). Mean age at diagnosis was 7 years old (0.8-18). M:F Ratio 1.5:1. NCI risk stratification: low 53%(n=709) and high 47% (n=631). Treatment protocols (n=7) varied across centers. At end of study period, that without outcome of death is 76% (n=1015), 43% alive (n=570) 24% died (n=325), 12% relapsed (n=163), 30% abandoned treatment (n=400). Most common cause of death were sepsis and bleeding. There were 163 relapses (12%) Relapse sites were bone marrow 63% (n=103), CNS 32% (n=52) and combined 5% (n=8). The 5-overall survival (OS) and abandonment-sensitive OS was 64% (95%CI 61% to 68%) and 27% (95% CI 22% to 31%). Multivariate analysis of patient characteristics showed mortality was strongly correlated with initial age at diagnosis >10 years old and <1 year old, hemoglobin <7g/dL and platelet counts ≤100X109/L. 

 Conclusion and Recommendation:  

ALL outcomes show treatment abandonment and toxic death are significant problems; and further studies are needed to understand the reasons for and the prognosis of patients with treatment abandonement. A comprehensive national leukemia program is needed and should include initiatives on infection control, standard clinical practice guidelines and creation of hospital registries.  


1. Yeoh, AEJ . "Management of adult and paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in Asia: resource-stratified guidelines from the Asian Oncology Summit 2013" Lancet Oncol [Internet] 14(12): 508-23, 2013-2013. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470204513704522
2. Pui, CH . "Sex differences in prognosis for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia" J Clin Oncol 17(3): 818-24, 1999. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10071272

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