What are the treatment options for older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML)?

Updated: May 26, 2020
  • Author: Karen Seiter, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Overall, the results of treatment of AML in elderly patients (particularly those older than 75 years) remain unsatisfactory. In a Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) study, patients older than 60 years had a complete remission rate of 47% after standard therapy. There were 31% aplastic deaths, and only 9% of patients were alive at 4 years. It should be noted that patients with antecedent hematologic disorders were excluded; accordingly, these results overestimate the benefit of chemotherapy in elderly patients.

Many patients are never referred for treatment, because of serious comorbid medical conditions and the knowledge that the treatment results are poor in this group of patients. For example, Menzin et al analyzed Medicare claims for treatment of AML. [57] In this study, only 30% of patients received chemotherapy (44% of patients aged 65-74 y, 24% of patients aged 75-84 y, and only 6% of patients 85 y or older).

Despite this, approximately 90% of patients were hospitalized and the patients spent approximately one third of their remaining days in the hospital. Therefore, novel treatments need to be developed for this patient population. [57]


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