Lung function in survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Paola Fulgoni, Maria Cristina Zoia, Angelo Corsico, Massimiliano Beccaria, Giovanna Georgiani, Grazia Bossi, Isa Cerveri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study objectives: To evaluate lung function in patients-cured from childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with chemotherapy alone or plus bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Pulmonary toxicity is a well-recognized side effect of many ALL treatments. Design: Cross-sectional study conducted at least 3 years after cessation of therapy. Setting: Outpatient pneumology department of the University Hospital. Patients: Forty-four subjects (age range at observation, 6 to 23 years): 21 treated only with intensive Berlin- Frankfurt-Munster (BFM)-type chemotherapy for newly diagnosed ALL (group A), and 23 treated with chemotherapy plus BMT (group B). Measurements: A detailed history of smoking habit, respiratory symptoms, and diseases was recorded directly from the patients with the aid of their parents. A complete physical examination and lung function testing (lung volumes and diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide [DLCO]) were performed in all subjects. Results: No patient reported acute or chronic respiratory symptoms or diseases. In group A patients, lung function was in the normal range, except for three subjects in whom there was an isolated impairment of DLCO. In group B patients, lung function was markedly impaired, with more than half the patients having an abnormal-DLCO. A statistically significant difference was found between the two groups for FVC (p = 0.022) and DLCO (p = 0.004). Conclusions: Intensive, BFM-type frontline chemotherapy is not associated with late pulmonary dysfunction; however, retreatment including BMT can frequently injure the lung. Thus, in patients who undergo BMT and whose life expectancy is long, careful monitoring of lung function and counseling about avoiding additional lung risk factors is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1163-1167
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Long-term lung function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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