Eighty two eligible children with 'standard risk' lymphoblastic leukaemia were entered into the Medical Research Council UKALL VII trial. Three failed to remit. With a minimum follow up time of four years, actuarial relapse free survival for the remainder was 65%; a significant improvement over the two preceding 'standard risk' trials at the same stage. Only one of five treatment variables possibly affected relapse free survival; this being whether methotrexate was given orally or parenterally during remission maintenance treatment. Twenty seven of 36 patients (75%) who were given intramuscular methotrexate remain alive and in their first remission compared with 23 of 41 (56%) given the drug orally. Although statistically significant differences in small trials should be interpreted with caution, this finding raises the possibility that orally administered methotrexate is not completely absorbed.
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