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J Clin Oncol. 2012 Jul 20;30(21):2670-7. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.38.9429. Epub 2012 Jun 11.

Multicenter, randomized, open-label, phase III trial of decitabine versus patient choice, with physician advice, of either supportive care or low-dose cytarabine for the treatment of older patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia.

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Department of Leukemia, Division of Cancer Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



This multicenter, randomized, open-label, phase III trial compared the efficacy and safety of decitabine with treatment choice (TC) in older patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and poor- or intermediate-risk cytogenetics.


Patients (N = 485) age ≥ 65 years were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive decitabine 20 mg/m(2) per day as a 1-hour intravenous infusion for five consecutive days every 4 weeks or TC (supportive care or cytarabine 20 mg/m(2) per day as a subcutaneous injection for 10 consecutive days every 4 weeks). The primary end point was overall survival (OS); the secondary end point was the complete remission (CR) rate plus the CR rate without platelet recovery (CRp). Adverse events (AEs) were recorded.


The primary analysis with 396 deaths (81.6%) showed a nonsignificant increase in median OS with decitabine (7.7 months; 95% CI, 6.2 to 9.2) versus TC (5.0 months; 95% CI, 4.3 to 6.3; P = .108; hazard ratio [HR], 0.85; 95% CI, 0.69 to 1.04). An unplanned analysis with 446 deaths (92%) indicated the same median OS (HR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.68 to 0.99; nominal P = .037). The CR rate plus CRp was 17.8% with decitabine versus 7.8% with TC (odds ratio, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.4 to 4.8; P = .001). AEs were similar for decitabine and cytarabine, although patients received a median of four cycles of decitabine versus two cycles of TC. The most common drug-related AEs with decitabine were thrombocytopenia (27%) and neutropenia (24%).


In older patients with AML, decitabine improved response rates compared with standard therapies without major differences in safety. An unplanned survival analysis showed a benefit for decitabine, which was not observed at the time of the primary analysis.

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