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J Clin Oncol. 1996 Apr;14(4):1345-52.

Therapy of untreated acute myeloid leukemia in the elderly: remission-induction using a non-cytarabine-containing regimen of mitoxantrone plus etoposide.

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Department of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Canada.



The University of Manitoba Adult Acute Leukemia Study Group sought to examine the safety, efficacy, and impact on quality of life of a non-cytarabine-containing remission-induction regimen followed by intermediate-dose cytarabine (IDARA-C) postremission therapy for the management of untreated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in patients age 60 to 80 years.


Eligible patients received mitoxantrone 10 mg/m2 and etoposide 100 mg/m2 on days 1 to 5. Complete remitters received a single course of cytarabine 0.5 mg/m2 every 12 hours on days 1 to 6. Cytogenetic and immunophenotyping studies were performed at diagnosis and were examined for prognostic importance. The Functional Living Index-Cancer (FLI-C) was used in the longitudinal assessment of quality of life.


A total of 37 (55%) of 67 eligible patients achieved remission, 34 (92%) of whom did so with a single course. The induction mortality rate was 12%. The median disease-free and overall survival times were 8.4 and 9.2 months, respectively. CD34 stem-cell phenotype, poor performance status, and high cytogenetic complexity score were independent covariates of failure to achieve remission. Very complex karotype combined with CD34 stem-cell phenotype to predict induction death in 67% of cases (P = .0003). Cytotoxic therapy-related gut epithelial damage was maximal during weeks 2 and 3 of therapy. Complete remitters and partial responders exhibited significantly improved global FLI-C scores following completion of therapy.


Mitoxantrone plus etoposide was an effective and well-tolerated first-line induction regimen for AML in the elderly that should be studied further in comparison to the standard cytarabine/anthracycline-based therapy.

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