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Treatment abandonment in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in China: a retrospective cohort study of the Chinese Children’s Cancer Group


Objectives Before 2003, most children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) abandoned treatment, with only approximately 30% treated in China. With the development of national insurance for underprivileged patients, we assessed the current frequency and causes of treatment abandonment among patients with ALL who were enrolled in the Chinese Children’s Cancer Group ALL protocol between 2015 and 2016.

Methods Demographic, clinical and laboratory data on patients who abandoned treatment, as well as economic and sociocultural data of their families were collected and analysed. General health-related statistics were retrieved from publicly accessible databanks maintained by the Chinese government.

Results At a median follow-up of 119 weeks, 83 (3.1%, 95% CI 2.5% to 3.8%) of the 2641 patients abandoned treatment. Factors independently associated with abandonment included standard/high-risk ALL (OR 2.62, 95% CI 1.43 to 4.77), presence of minimal residual disease at the end of remission induction (OR 3.57, 95% CI 1.90 to 6.74) and low-income economic region (OR 3.7, 95% CI 1.89 to 7.05). According to the family members, economic constraints (50.6%, p=0.0001) were the main reason for treatment abandonment, followed by the belief of incurability, severe side effects and concern over late complications.

Conclusions The rate of ALL treatment abandonment has been greatly reduced in China. Standard/high-risk ALL, residence in a low-income region and economic difficulties were associated with treatment abandonment.

Clinical trial registration number ChiCTR-IPR-14005706, pre-results.

  • treatment abandonment
  • paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  • economic difficulties

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