Evaluation for inherited and acquired prothrombotic defects predisposing to symptomatic thromboembolism in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a protocol for a prospective, observational, cohort study
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BACKGROUND: Thromboembolism (TE) is a serious complication in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The incidence of symptomatic thromboembolism is as high as 14% and case fatality rate of ~15%. Further, development of thromboembolism interferes with the scheduled chemotherapy with potential impact on cure rates. The exact pathogenesis of ALL-associated thromboembolism is unknown. Concomitant administration of asparaginase and steroids, two important anti-leukemic agents, is shown to increase the risk of ALL-associated TE. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) ALL studies reported ~10% incidence of thrombosis with significantly increased risk in older children (≥10 yrs.) and those with high-risk ALL. The majority (90%) of thromboembolic events occurred in the Consolidation phase of therapy with concomitant asparaginase and steroids when high-risk patients (including all older patients) receive higher dose steroids. Certain inherited and acquired prothrombotic defects are known to contribute to the development of TE. German investigators documented ~50% incidence of TE during therapy with concomitant asparaginase and steroids, in children with at least one prothrombotic defect. However, current evidence regarding the role of prothrombotic defects in the development of ALL-associated TE is contradictory. Although thromboprophylaxis can prevent thromboembolism, ALL and it's therapy can increase the risk of bleeding. For judicious use of thromboprophylaxis, identifying a population at high risk for TE is important. The risk factors, including prothrombotic defects, predisposing to thrombosis in children with ALL have not been defined. METHODS: This prospective, observational cohort study aims to evaluate the prevalence of inherited prothrombotic defects in children with ALL treated on DFCI 05-01 protocol and the causal relationship of prothrombotic defects in combination with patient and disease-related factors to the development of TE. We hypothesize that the combination of prothrombotic defects and the intensive therapy with concomitant high dose steroids and asparaginase increases the risk of TE in older patients and patients with high-risk ALL. DISCUSSION: The results of the proposed study will help design studies of prophylactic anticoagulant therapy. Thromboprophylaxis given to a targeted population will likely reduce the incidence of TE in children with ALL and ultimately improve their quality of life and prospects for cure.
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