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Blood. 2006 May 1;107(9):3481-5. Epub 2006 Feb 2.

Age and acute myeloid leukemia.

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Southwest Oncology Group, Operations Office, 14980 Omicron Dr, San Antonio, TX 78245-3217, USA.


We conducted a retrospective analysis of 968 adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) on 5 recent Southwest Oncology Group trials to understand how the nature of AML changes with age. Older study patients with AML presented with poorer performance status, lower white blood cell counts, and a lower percentage of marrow blasts. Multidrug resistance was found in 33% of AMLs in patients younger than age 56 compared with 57% in patients older than 75. The percentage of patients with favorable cytogenetics dropped from 17% in those younger than age 56 to 4% in those older than 75. In contrast, the proportion of patients with unfavorable cytogenetics increased from 35% in those younger than age 56 to 51% in patients older than 75. Particularly striking were the increases in abnormalities of chromosomes 5, 7, and 17 among the elderly. The increased incidence of unfavorable cytogenetics contributed to their poorer outcome, and, within each cytogenetic risk group, treatment outcome deteriorated markedly with age. Finally, the combination of a poor performance status and advanced age identified a group of patients with a very high likelihood of dying within 30 days of initiating induction therapy. The distinct biology and clinical responses seen argue for age-specific assessments when evaluating therapies for AML.

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