Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Intensive Chemotherapy May Be Harmful to Most Older Patients With Acute Myeloid Leukemia

The prognosis for nearly three-quarters of elderly patients on intensive chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is poor, with a median survival of less than six months, according to a study published online today in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology.

AML is the most common form of acute leukemia among adults and is a rapidly growing cancer of the bone marrow that requires immediate treatment. The average age at diagnosis is 67, and more than 12,000 people will be diagnosed with AML this year (according to the National Cancer Institute).

“Recent studies have suggested that intensive chemotherapy might benefit elderly patients with AML, but we found that not to be the case,” said Hagop Kantarjian, MD, Chairman of the Leukemia Department at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and senior author of the study. “Patients who did not have any of the eight-week mortality predictors we identified in the study may benefit from the more intense treatment, but for the majority of AML patients of advanced age, lower-intensity treatments are a better, less risky option.”

Symptoms of AML include fever, frequent infections, tiredness, pale skin, shortness of breath, easy bleeding or bruising, and pain in the bones or joints. Because the disease develops rapidly, doctors usually begin treatment immediately after diagnosis. Treatments for AML include chemotherapy or a transplant with blood cells obtained from the circulating blood or cord blood, though, for most elderly patients, the risks of serious side effects eliminate transplant as a viable option.

As most clinical trials of AML thus far have excluded patients older than 55, physicians have had to infer that treatments that work for younger patients will work for older patients, too. In this study, researchers focused on older patients with AML in order to provide more conclusive information about treatment among this population. Researchers analyzed 446 patients with AML age 70 or older who were given a cytarabine-based intensive chemotherapy regimen between 1990 and 2008. For nearly half of the patients, the therapy was successful in combating the cancer, with 45 percent achieving a complete remission. However, 154 patients (some who were in remission as well as some who were not) died during the first eight weeks after treatment began. Causes of death included both treatment toxicity and ineffective therapy leading to disease progression. The researchers analyzed the patients to identify those most at risk for this eight-week mortality rate and found the following predictive factors:

age greater then 80 years

three or more genetic abnormalities

poor performance as indicated by an ECOG score of 2-4 (Developed by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, a score of zero on this scale indicates a fully active individual with no signs of disease, while a score of five indicates death.)

creatinine levels greater than 1.3 mg (Creatinine levels are an indicator of kidney function, the organ that filters the blood.)

The more of these factors patients had, the poorer their survival outcome with intensive chemotherapy. Among those who did not have any of these risk factors (28 percent), only 16 percent had an eight-week mortality rate as compared with a 71 percent mortality rate among patients with three or more adverse factors (9 percent).

“When doctors and patients are discussing intensive chemotherapy as a treatment option for AML, they must take these mortality risk factors into consideration to determine whether the patient is likely to benefit from this type of treatment,” said Dr. Kantarjian.

Reporters who wish to receive a copy of the study or arrange an interview with Dr. Kantarjian may contact Lindsey Love at 202-776-0544 or

The American Society of Hematology is the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders. Its mission is to further the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting blood, bone marrow, and the immunologic, hemostatic, and vascular systems by promoting research, clinical care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. ASH provides Blood: The Vital Connection, a credible online resource addressing bleeding and clotting disorders, anemia, and cancer. The official journal of ASH is Blood, the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online.

Lindsey Love | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

New method increases energy density in lithium batteries

24.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

International team discovers novel Alzheimer's disease risk gene among Icelanders

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>