BACKGROUND: Treatment options in older acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) patients include intensive chemotherapy, best supportive care (BSC), and hypomethylating agents. Currently, limited data is available on hypomethylating agents in older AML patients in unselected patient populations. METHODS: To compare the effectiveness of azacitidine with conventional therapy, we collected data of 227 consecutive AML patients (>=60 years) who were treated with azacitidine (N = 26), intensive chemotherapy (N = 90), and BSC (N = 97). RESULTS: Azacitidine-treated patients were older and had more comorbidities, but lower white blood cell- and bone marrow blast counts compared with intensive chemotherapy patients. Complete or partial response was achieved in 42% of azacitidine-treated patients and in 73% of intensive chemotherapy patients (P = 0.005). However, the overall survival (OS) was similar (1-year-OS 57% versus 56%, P = 0.93; 2-year-OS 35% versus 35%, P = 0.92), and remained similar after correction for risk factors in a multivariate analysis. Patients treated with BSC had an inferior OS (1-year- and 2-year-OS 16% and 2%, P < 0.001). Compared to intensive chemotherapy, azacitidine-treated patients spent less days in the hospital (0.5 versus 56, P < 0.001), and needed less red blood cell and platelet transfusions (2.7 versus 7, P < 0.001 and 0.3 versus 5, P < 0.001) in the first three months. CONCLUSIONS: Azacitidine treatment is associated with a comparable OS but higher tolerability in a subgroup of older AML patients compared with intensive chemotherapy. Patients receiving BSC had a poor prognosis.
Van Der Helm, L. H., Scheepers, E. R. M., Veeger, N. J., Daenen, S. M. G. J., Mulder, A. B., Van Den Berg, E., … Huls, G. (2013). Azacitidine might be beneficial in a subgroup of older AML patients compared to intensive chemotherapy: A single centre retrospective study of 227 consecutive patients. Journal of Hematology and Oncology, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-8722-6-29