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Rev Clin Exp Hematol. 2002 Mar;6(1):46-59; discussion 86-7.

Acute myeloid leukemia: treatment over 60.

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  • 1University of Münster, Department of Medicine, Hematology and Oncology, Germany.


Undertreatment of older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) can explain, in part, their inferior outcome when compared to that of younger patients. In agreement with the benefit seen by patients under age 60 from high-dose cytosine arabinoside (Ara-C), there are dose effects in the over 60s, in particular for daunorubicin, in induction treatment and for the duration of postremission treatment. The use of these effects can partly overcome the mostly unfavorable disease biology in older age AML, as expressed by the absence of favorable and the over-representation of adverse chromosomal abnormalities as well as the expression of drug resistance. We recommend an adequate dosage of 60 mg/m2 daunorubicin on 3 days in combination with standard dose Ara-C and 6-thioguanine given for induction and consolidation, and followed by a prolonged monthly maintenance chemotherapy for at least 1 year's duration. Further improvements in supportive care may help to deliver additional antileukemic cytotoxicity. As a novel approach, nonmyeloablative preparative regimens may open up the possibility of allogeneic transplantation for older patients with AML. Other new options like multidrug resistance modulators, antibody targeted therapies and molecular targeting are under clinical investigation. A questionnaire study in patients with AML showed that, according to patients' self-assessment, intensive and prolonged treatment did not result in a diminished quality of life. This finding did not vary by age, under or over 60 years. As the median age in this disease is more than 60 years, the adequate management of AML in older patients remains the major challenge.

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