In a nutshell
This study was a systematic review (looking at all available and relevant evidence) of the safety and effectiveness of different treatment options for elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The study found that azacitidine (Vidaza) was safe and more effective than intensive chemotherapy in these patients.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the bone marrow leading to abnormal white blood cells. AML most commonly affects adults and elderly patients. There are limited treatment options for these patients and prognosis is poor. Therefore, it is important to research the safety and effectiveness of current treatment plans. This may help future research and treatment of AML.
Methods & findings
Twelve studies were included in this review. Azacitidine and intensive chemotherapy were the most common treatment plans. Six studies looked at safety and the effect of azacitidine on overall survival in elderly patients with AML. The other studies examined safety and effectiveness of intensive and lower-intensity chemotherapies such as cytarabine (Cytosar-U)/idarubicin (Zavedos) and mitoxantrone (Novantrone)/etoposide(Etopophos)
One study showed that patients receiving intensive chemotherapy had a higher complete response (56% – no sign of cancer after treatment) compared to lower intensity. Lower-intensity chemotherapy was linked with side effects such as blood infection (39%), bacterial pneumonia (17.8%) and fungal pneumonia (14.5%). All of these patients also developed low white blood cell counts.
Azacitidine was linked with higher overall survival (10.4 months) than lower-intensity treatment (6.5 months). Another study showed that 40% of patients with AML were still alive 1-year after treatment with azacitidine.
Side effects linked with azacitidine included a low white blood cell count (28%), low platelet count (part of blood involved in clotting – 23.7%), pneumonia (19.1%), and infection (13%).
The bottom line
The study concluded that current research says azacitidine is a safe and effective treatment option in elderly patients with AML.
The fine print
There is limited research in this area overall with a low number of relevant studies found.
Published By :
Clinical lymphoma, myeloma & leukemia
May 10, 2018