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J Oncol. 2010;2010:943823. doi: 10.1155/2010/943823. Epub 2010 Jun 10.

Challenges in treating older patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

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Division of Hematology/BMT Unit, Patras University Hospital, Patras, Greece.


Whereas in younger patients diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) treatment is straightforward and the goal is cure, the optimal treatment decision for older adults remains highly controversial. Physicians need to determine whether palliation, "something" beyond palliation, intensive therapy, or an investigational therapy is the most appropriate treatment option. This requires understanding of the biology and risk profile of the AML, clinical judgment in evaluating the functional status of the patient, communication skills in understanding the patient's wishes and social background, and medical expertise in available therapies. The physician has to accurately inform the patient about (a) the unique biological considerations of his leukemia and his prognosis; (b) the risks and benefits of all available treatment options; (c) novel therapeutic approaches and how the patient can get access to these treatments. Last but not least, he has to recommend a treatment. This paper tries to discuss each of these issues.

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