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Cancer Control. 2003 Nov-Dec;10(6):469-77.

Management of acute myelogenous leukemia in the elderly.

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James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, University of Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a hematopoietic neoplasm that primarily affects older adults. Despite scientific advances into the epidemiologic, genetic, and biological features of AML, this disease remains fatal to the majority of patients, particularly older individuals.


We review the biologic and clinical characteristics of AML in the elderly and the treatment options that have emerged for them during the past several years.


Several biologic features of AML differ between older and younger individuals. Older patients often have disease that expresses multidrug resistance phenotype and cytogenetic abnormalities, which may be responsible in large part for the poor outcomes observed in older-aged subgroups. Traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy is associated with a low complete response rate and a high treatment-related mortality in older patients, which explains in part the poorer outcomes in cohorts over 60 years of age. Research into the pathophysiology of AML has revealed an abundance of intracellular signaling events that govern proliferation and survival of the malignant cell. Such discoveries have promoted recognition of new molecular and antigenic targets (eg, Flt-3 kinase, Ras, CD33 antigen) to which therapeutic development may be aimed.


New therapies directed against these unique targets may add to the current arsenal of antileukemic regimens and improve response rates and survival in older patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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