Study finds one treatment stands above others for adults with Langerhans cell histiocytosis

HOUSTON - AUG. 15, 2012 - A recent study by a Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Cancer Centerphysician-researcher has shed light on the most effective treatment for adults with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) in bones. LCH is a disease that can affect the skin, mouth, ears, bones, brain, gastrointestinal system, liver, spleen or bone marrow.

In the study, appearing in the current issue of PLOS ONE, researchers reviewed health records for 58 adults with the disease and compared the effectiveness of three chemotherapy treatments - vinblastine/prednisone, 2-Chlorodeoxyadenosine and cytosine arabinoside.

"Cytarabine (cytosine arabinoside) is clearly the winner here - it's the most effective and least toxic," said Dr. Ken McClain, professor of pediatrics - hematology/oncology at BCM and director of the Histiocytosis Program at Texas Children's Cancer Center.

The study is important because LCH is rare in adults and there is very little research on the disease. There have been no studies in the literature up to now that compare different treatments, according to McClain.

"The number one thing that I hope comes out of this study is that physicians stop using vinblastine/prednisone, which is the least effective and most toxic chemotherapy treatment for this disease," he said.

LCH occurs when white blood cells called histiocytes and lymphocytes gather together and attack the skin, bones, brain, gastrointestinal system, major organs, mouth and ears. It affects children and adults and can range from a single skin lesion to multi-organ involvement. It can be chronic and debilitating and, in some cases, fatal.

The study reviewed patients who were seen from 2001 to 2011 at BCM. It offers data that could be useful for future clinical trials but, more importantly, it provides literature for physicians who do not know how to treat patients with this rare disease.

McClain is a leading expert on LCH for both children and adults with this disease.

Texas Children's Cancer Center is a joint program of BCM and Texas Children's Hospital.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.