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Adolescents experienced more treatment failure than children with chronic myeloid leukemia receiving imatinib as frontline therapy: a retrospective multicenter study


To explore the differences in the clinical features, treatment responses, and outcomes among children, adolescents, and adults with chronic myeloid leukemia in the chronic phase (CML-CP) receiving imatinib as first-line therapy. Data from children (0–8 years for girls and 0–10 years for boys), adolescents (9–19 years for girls and 11–19 years for boys), and adults (age ≥ 20 years) with newly diagnosed CML-CP receiving imatinib as first-line therapy between 2006 and 2019 were retrospectively reviewed. In total, 135 children (cohort 1), 189 adolescents (cohort 2), and 658 adults (cohort 3: age 20–39 years, n = 305; cohort 4: age 40–59 years, n = 270; and cohort 5: age 60–83 years, n = 83) were included in this study. When compared with children, adolescents showed a significantly higher white blood cell count (P = 0.033) and basophil percentage in peripheral blood (P = 0.002) and a significantly higher prevalence of splenomegaly (P = 0.004). Both children and adolescents presented with more aggressive clinical features than adults. During median follow-ups of 28 months (range, 3–161 months) in children, 33 months (range, 3–152 months) in adolescents, and 48 months (range, 3–157 months) in adults, multivariate analysis showed that children and adolescents had higher probabilities of achieving complete cytogenetic response, major molecular response, and molecular response4.5. Notably, compared with not only adults (cohort 3 vs. cohort 1: HR = 2.03 [1.03, 3.98], P = 0.040; cohort 4 vs. cohort 1: HR = 2.15 [1.07, 4.33], P = 0.033; cohort 5 vs. cohort 1: HR = 4.22 [1.94, 9.15], P < 0.001) but also adolescents (cohort 2 vs. cohort 1: HR = 2.36 [1.18, 4.72], P = 0.015), children had significantly longer failure-free survival. Age was not associated with progression-free survival or overall survival. Although they exhibited more aggressive clinical features at diagnosis, both children and adolescents achieved superior treatment responses than adults. Adolescents showed even more adverse features and a poor FFS than children.

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The authors would like to thank Professor Meinolf Suttorp who kindly reviewed the typescript and the American Journal Experts ( that provided editorial assistance.


This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81770161 and No. 81970140).

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Correspondence to Qian Jiang.

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Xuelin Dou, Fangyuan Zheng, and Liqiang Zhang contributed equally to this article

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Dou, X., Zheng, F., Zhang, L. et al. Adolescents experienced more treatment failure than children with chronic myeloid leukemia receiving imatinib as frontline therapy: a retrospective multicenter study. Ann Hematol 100, 2215–2228 (2021).

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  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Imatinib
  • Children
  • Adolescents