BACKGROUND: The event-free survival of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has been reported to be superior when oral methotrexate (MTX) and 6-mercaptopurine (6MP) maintenance therapy (MT) is administered in the evening compared to the morning. PROCEDURE: In the ALL92 MT study we prospectively registered the intake of MTX/6MP. The registration was done when blood samples for erythrocyte MTX/6MP metabolite measurements were collected, and referred to the time of intake in the period since last registration. Nine thousand one hundred ninety-five registrations in total. The administration of MTX/6MP was scored as morning, midday, or evening. RESULTS: Of 532 patients, 296 took their medication consistently in the evening, 129 in the evening 50.0-99.9% of the time, and 101 in the evening <50% of the time, six did not have any registrations. The circadian schedule did not differ significantly by age, sex, MTX/6MP doses, and average absolute neutrophil counts. The circadian schedule groups did differ on risk groups (P = 0.003) with fewer HR patients in the 50-99.9% group, and there was a negative correlation between percentage of time on evening schedule and average WBC (Spearman's rho -0.15; P = 0.0004). Average WBC was not associated with relapse on ALL92. In a Cox multivariate model the circadian schedule of MTX/6MP was not of prognostic significance for the risk of relapse, and the 10-year cumulative relapse risk was below 20% in all groups. CONCLUSION: An evening schedule may still be recommended based on the previous publications, but in this study morning administration of MTX and 6MP does not seem to impact EFS.
Medical and Pediatric Oncology, 2014, Vol 61, Issue 4, p. 653-658