Recent advances in intensive chemo- and immunotherapy have contributed to the outcome of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH); however, the prognosis of HLH in children differs by HLH subtype. In Japan, secondary HLH, particularly Epstein–Barr virus-associated HLH (EBV-HLH), is the most common HLH subtype. The prognosis of HLH has improved in recent years. We here conducted a prospective study of 73 patients who were treated with HLH-2004 protocol in Japan. EBV-HLH, familial HLH (FHL), and HLH of unknown etiology were seen in 41, 9, and 23 patients, respectively. Patients with resistant or relapsed disease after HLH-2004 treatment and those with FHL received hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The induction rate after initial therapy was 58.9%, and the 3-year overall survival (OS) rate of all patients was 73.9% and differed significantly among those with EBV-HLH, FHL, and HLH of unknown etiology. Of the 17 patients who received HSCT, the 3-year OS rates of those with and without complete resolution before HSCT were 83.3% and 54.5%, respectively. Outcomes in children with HLH who were treated with the same protocol differed among HLH subtypes. Appropriate strategy for each subtype should be established in future studies.
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