Practice of L-Asparaginase Usage: A Survey among Healthcare Providers Treating Children with Cancer in India

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South Asian Journal of Cancer


Vasudeva Bhat K Introduction L-asparaginase is an essential chemotherapeutic agent in the therapy of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which has led to improvement in survival. In low- and middle-income countries like India, the outcomes in ALL are inferior compared with the published literature, one of the causes of which is believed to be due to the inferior quality of bioequivalent asparaginase. Objective The following survey attempts to understand the practice of using this agent among oncologists treating children with cancer in our country. Methods The researchers designed a structured online questionnaire comprising 25 aspects of L-asparaginase usage in the study. The questionnaire was directed to the healthcare providers involved in treating children with cancer in India. Results Of the total 80 responses recorded, 51 (64%) respondents had more than 5 years of experience in pediatric oncology and were treating at least 5 to 10 newly diagnosed ALL patients per month. Forty-one (51%) respondents utilized native asparaginase, and 21 (26.3%) oncologists used PEGylated-asparaginase exclusively. The most common route of administration was the intramuscular route (66.3%). Seventy percent of respondents utilized native form at a dose of 10,000 IU/m 2 and 20% at 6,000 IU/m 2. The amounts used for PEGylated L-asparaginase were 1,000,IU/m 2, 2,500,IU/m 2, and variable doses in 48, 40, and 10% of responses, respectively. Though serum asparaginase assay (SAA) was not measured routinely in most of the centers, 39 (48.8%) healthcare providers perceived performing SAA helps to make the clinical decision. Conclusion This survey shows a wide variation in L-asparaginase usage among healthcare providers caring for children with cancer in our country. As L-asparaginase is the pivotal component of ALL therapy, uniformity in its usage and dosing with the possibility of monitoring SAA due to the quality of bioequivalent may be one of the critical steps toward improving outcomes in ALL in our country.



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