Adults with a common form of leukaemia had a better chance of
remission if they got a double dose of a long-used cancer drug, two
new studies found.
Doctors said the findings should change the standard of care for
younger adults with acute myeloid leukaemia, but work remains to
find better treatment for the elderly, who are more likely to
develop the disease.
Acute myeloid leukaemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
Most common type in adults
It's the most common type of acute leukaemia in adults. About 12,810
new cases will be diagnosed in the United States this year,
according to the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Society.
Patients typically receive two chemotherapy drugs to slow or
stop the growth of cancer cells in the body. Two studies published
in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine looked at how
patients fared if the dose of one of the chemo drugs, daunorubicin,
One study led by researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center and
Research Institute in Florida gave 657 leukemia patients ages 17 to
60 either the standard chemo dose or double the amount and followed
them for about two years.
Higher does = complete remission
Complete remission occurred in 71%
of those who took the higher dose, compared with 57% in the
regular dose group. Overall survival was also higher in those who
had more chemo: 24 months versus 16 months.
The other study led by Erasmus University Medical Center in the
Netherlands looked at an older population - ages 60 to 83 and
followed them for three years. Of the 813 volunteers newly
diagnosed with AML, 64% in the double-dose group had
complete remission compared with 54% in the standard dose
Overall, there was no difference in survival between the two
groups, except those under 65 who got the double dose did better.
Higher dose for younger patients
In an accompanying editorial, Drs. Herve Dombret and Claude
Gardin of Hospital Saint-Louis in Paris wrote that the results
warrant giving younger leukaemia patients a higher chemo dose. Since
many elderly patients will not benefit from more chemo, doctors
need to find new ways to help this age group, they said.
The American study was funded by the National Cancer Institute
and Department of Health and Human Services. One of the authors
received support from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Immunex, which make
chemo drugs. The European study was supported by the Dutch Cancer
Society Queen Wilhelmina Foundation.- (Sapa-AP , September 2009)
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