Acute leukemia comprises of 31% of all cancers in children making it the most common childhood malignancy. Significant strides have been made in treatment, partly through risk stratification and intensified therapy. A number of subtypes remain at high risk for relapse and poor outcome, despite current therapies. Here we describe risk stratification and molecular diagnosis used to identify high risk leukemias and guide treatment. Specific cytogenetic alterations that contribute to high risk B and T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), as well as infant leukemia are discussed. Particular attention is given to genetic alterations in IKZF1, CRLF2, and JAK, that have been identified by whole genome sequencing and recently associated with Ph-like ALL. Ongoing studies of disease mechanisms and challenges in developing pre-clinical patient-derived xenograft models to evaluate therapies are discussed.
Part of the book: Leukemias