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J Clin Oncol. 1989 Sep;7(9):1268-74.

On the value of intensive remission-induction chemotherapy in elderly patients of 65+ years with acute myeloid leukemia: a randomized phase III study of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Leukemia Group.

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Dr Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


We report the results of a prospective study in patients more than 65 years of age in whom two different therapeutic strategies were compared: immediate intensive-induction chemotherapy (arm A) versus "wait and see" and supportive care and mild cytoreductive chemotherapy only for relief of progressive acute myeloid leukemia (AML)-related symptoms (arm B). The major objective of the study was to compare survival outcome of both regimens. Thirty-one patients on arm A received one or two courses of daunorubicin, vincristine, and cytarabine for remission induction followed by one additional cycle for consolidation in case of complete remission (CR). Among 29 patients on arm B, cytoreductive chemotherapy (hydroxyurea, cytarabine) had to be initiated for palliation of leukemia-associated complications in 21 patients at a median of 9 days after diagnosis. Overall survival duration for patients treated on arm A was significantly (P = .015) longer than the survival in arm B (median survival, 21 weeks v 11 weeks; projected survival at 2.5 years, 13% v 0%). Eighteen (58%) of arm A patients and none (0%) of arm B patients entered CR. Of the first group, projected disease-free survival at 2 years is 17%. The median percentages of days spent in the hospital by arm A and B patients were 55% and 50%, respectively. This study shows that a strategy based on modern supportive care and a wait and see approach yields extremely poor results. It is not superior in regard to the frequency of hospital admission and is inferior regarding survival outcome.

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