Obese youths with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are known to have worse outcomes than their lean counterparts. To find out why, investigators at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles studied patients who were obese at the time of their diagnosis with ALL to determine if body mass index (BMI) impacted response to initial chemotherapy. This response to initial chemotherapy (or induction therapy) is measured by the absence of leukemia cells in the bone marrow.

Called minimal residual disease (MRD), in which residual leukemia cells cannot be seen under microscope but can be detected by more sensitive methods, it is among the strongest predictors of long-term survival and disease recurrence. As reported in First Edition of the journal Blood on October 27, following induction chemotherapy, obese patients were more than twice as likely to have minimal residual disease, than non-obese patients.

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