Poverty and relapse risk in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a Children's Oncology Group study AALL03N1 report

Aman Wadhwa, Yanjun Chen, Lindsey Hageman, Anna Hoppmann, Anne Angiolillo, David S. Dickens, Joseph P. Neglia, Yaddanapudi Ravindranath, A. Kim Ritchey, Amanda Termuhlen, F. Lennie Wong, Wendy Landier, Smita Bhatia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The association between individual-level poverty and relapse in children receiving maintenance treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) remains unclear. In a secondary analysis of COG-AALL03N1, we used data from US Census Bureau to categorize patients living below year-specific federal poverty thresholds, calculated using self-reported annual household income and size of household. Participants with federal poverty thresholds above 120% of their yearly household income were categorized as living in extreme poverty. Hazard of relapse was estimated using multivariable proportional subdistributional hazards regression for patients living in extreme poverty while receiving ALL maintenance therapy after adjusting for relevant predictors. Among 592 patients in this analysis, 12.3% of the patients were living in extreme poverty. After a median follow-up of 7.9 years, the cumulative incidence of relapse at 3 years from study enrollment among those living in extreme poverty was significantly higher (14.3%) than those not living in extreme poverty (7.6%). Multivariable analysis demonstrated that children living in extreme poverty had a 1.95-fold greater hazard of relapse than those not living in extreme poverty; this association was mitigated after the inclusion of race/ethnicity in the model, likely because of collinearity between race/ethnicity and poverty. A greater proportion of children living in extreme poverty were nonadherent to mercaptopurine (57.1% vs 40.9%); however, poor adherence did not completely explain the association between poverty and relapse risk. Future studies need to understand the mechanisms underlying the association between extreme poverty and relapse risk. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00268528.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-229
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 20 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The American Society of Hematology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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