Treatment concepts for elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia

  • Wolfgang R. Sperr
  • Alexander W. Hauswirth
  • Friedrich Wimazal
  • Paul Knöbl
  • Klaus Geissler
  • Peter Valent
Review Article


The majority of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are over 60 years of age at diagnosis. Unlike treatment options for younger adults, those for older patients are limited to non-myeloablative therapy, and many patients are not treatable because of poor performance status. In those who are treatable, long-term survival can be achieved using intensive induction and consolidation chemotherapy. Such curative treatment can be administered in about 70% of elderly patients with AML. In responding patients (up to 60%) the disease-free survival may be almost comparable to that of younger adults. However, treatment-related toxicity results in a higher mortality rate in the elderly patients. Moreover, aggressive chemotherapy cannot be used for 30% of the patients, due to their poor performance status. Currently, palliative cytoreductive treatment and supportive care are considered appropriate for these patients. Recently, however, targeting antileukemic antibodies and inhibitors of signal transduction have been introduced as promising new treatment options. The therapeutic efficiency and toxicity-profiles of these novel drugs are currently under investigation in clinical trials.

Key words

Acute myeloid leukemia elderly patients intensive induction therapy consolidation chemotherapy 

Therapie der akuten myeloischen Leukämie bei älteren Patienten


Der überwiegende Anteil der Patienten mit akuter myeloischer Leukämie (AML) ist bei Diagnosestellung bereits älter als 60 Jahre. In dieser Altersgruppe beschränken sich die therapeutischen Optionen auf nicht myeloablative Therapien, und oft erlaubt der schlechte Allgemeinzustand keine intensive Chemotherapie. Ist jedoch eine intensive zytostatische Therapie durchführbar, so kann mittels Induktionstherapie und Konsolidierungstherapien ein Langzeitüberleben erreicht werden. In zirka 70% der ältern AML-Patienten kann eine solche Therapie verabreicht werden. Bei Patienten die auf die Induktionstherapie ansprechen (bis zu 60%) ist das leukämiefreie Überleben durchaus mit dem der jüngeren Patienten vergleichbar. Es muß jedoch in Betracht gezogen werden, dass die Mortalität der älteren Patienten aufgrund der therapieassoziieten Toxizität höher ist als in der jüngern Population. Bei 30% der älteren Patienten kann wegen des schlechten Allgemeinzustandes keine intensive Chemotherapie verabreicht werden. Für diese Patienten sind palliative zytoreduktive sowie supportive Maßnahmen die derzeit etablierten Optionen. Neue Therapieansätze dürften sich durch die Entwicklung neuer zielgerichteter Substanzen wie Antikörper oder Inhibitoren der Signaltransduktion ergeben. Die Effektivität und Toxizität dieser neuen Substanzen wird derzeit in klinischen Studien evaluiert.


Akute myeloische Leukämie ältere Patienten intensive Induktionstherapie Konsolidierungstherapie 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang R. Sperr
    • 1
  • Alexander W. Hauswirth
    • 1
  • Friedrich Wimazal
    • 1
  • Paul Knöbl
    • 1
  • Klaus Geissler
    • 2
  • Peter Valent
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine I, Division of Hematology and HemostaseologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Fifth Medical Department OncologyHospital LainzViennaAustria

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