Where to next for the elderly with acute myeloid leukaemia?

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Published: 19 Dec 2013
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Dr Uwe Platzbecker - University Hospital Dresden, Germany and Prof Gert Ossenkoppele - VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Speaking to ecancer from the 55th meeting of the American Society of Haematology (ASH) in New Orleans, USA, Dr Uwe Platzbecker from Amsterdam and Prof Gert Ossenkoppele from Dresden share their disappointment in the lack of novel agents with positive patient outcomes presented at the meeting for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

The experts note that, with most patients with AML aged 60 years, and induction chemotherapy only having a good safety profile up to 70 years of age, toxicity is a serious problem, and there is a real clinical need for new and targeted, orally administered therapies. These need to maintain and promote remission and postpone the time to relapse, even if they are unlikely to achieve a cure.

The haematologists go on to discuss the importance of identifying whether a patient is sufficiently fit to receive induction therapy and outline how they would go about this.  The importance of a clinician’s instinct in this process is emphasised.   A scoring tool could help to improve outcomes when used by less experienced clinicians.

Prof Ossenkoppele notes that defining a new clinical end-point, such as stem cell determination during treatment or decline in disease burden, might encourage rapid preliminary approval of new drugs which can then be trialled in patients, for example, the elderly AML patient.

Read our ASH 2013 conference report for free.

This programme has been supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Janssen Pharmaceutica (A Johnson & Johnson Company).