, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 341-353
Date: 07 Sep 2011

Treatment of Elderly Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients

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Opinion statement

Older patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) fare much less well than younger patients with the same disease due to a combination of comorbidities and intrinsic disease resistance. Likely due to aging of the US population, the median age of AML patients at diagnosis has increased from 68 to 72 years. AML is a heterogeneous disease, particularly in older patients, making therapeutic decisions challenging. Older patients who are ‘fit’ for intensive chemotherapy and would have a reasonable chance to benefit based on host and disease characteristics should receive standard induction chemotherapy with 7 days of continuous infusion of cytarabine and at least 60 mg/m2 daunorubicin daily for 3 days. Therapeutic options for patients who are not candidates for or are not likely to respond to intensive therapy include clofarabine, low intensity chemotherapy such as low dose cytarabine, hypomethylating agents, or investigational agents. For older AML patients in complete remission, post-remission or consolidation chemotherapy with repeat induction or modified high dose cytarabine may offer a small chance for long term disease-free survival. Selected older patients who achieve remission by any means should be considered for reduced-intensity stem cell transplantation which may offer improved chances of cure and survival compared with standard post-remission chemotherapy.