Thrombosis in children with leukaemia

At the Catholic University of Campobasso (Italy) an innovative study providing further knowledge about this frequent association, a new way to face it and to better prevent it

Helping researchers and doctors to better understand and face, by the most appropriate tools, a serious complication that may occur in children affected by acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL): thrombosis, i.e. blood vessel occlusion due to blood clots, the most common cause for heart attack, pulmonary embolism and other cardiovascular diseases. It is the result of a research performed in Italy by the Laboratory of Genetic and Environmental Epidemiology and the Onco-Haematology Unit of the Catholic University in collaboration with the Haematology Division of the University of L'Aquila.

Thrombosis in children with leukaemia is a serious problem, that adds a new clinical concern for these children already troubled by such a severe disease. Prevention and focused therapy are essential in order to avoid complications that may turn out to be extremely harsh. What is the frequency with which thrombosis occurs in these young patients? Which role do their genetic characteristics play and which kind of therapy are they submitted to? The study used metanalytic techniques, a complex statistic procedure that, by combining and analysing data published by several international research teams, allowed the researchers to determine in a very precise way the association between ALL and thrombotic complications in 1,752 children affected by this type of leukaemia.

Data were taken from 17 international studies selected according to strict scientific criteria. In 5,2 percent of the children thrombotic complications were reported. Researchers have been able to identify several factors involved in determining the risk for this complication. Particularly, many of the thrombotic events occurred during the so called 'induction' phase of the antileukaemic therapy. Moreover, the researchers successfully identified therapies and medical procedures mainly associated with the risk of thrombosis. Finally, the possible role of genetic determinants (especially the hereditary tendency for excessive blood coagulation, called thrombophilia) was explored.

"The risk of these complications says Maria Benedetta Donati, Scientific Projects Coordinator at the Research Laboratories of the Catholic University - is relatively high and the analysis of the affected children's characteristics allowed us to identify those at high risk. In this way, data will be immediately available for haematologists in order to decide the best therapies to undertake, also according to the genetic predisposition of each individual child".

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The study, the first exploiting this methodological approach, is available on-line and will be published on the next issue of the USA haematology top journal Blood.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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