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Blood Cancer Advances May Improve Survival
Date:12/6/2010

he team also noted that progression-free survival rates came in 12 percent better among those given zoledronic acid. Chemotherapy intensity did not appear to affect fatality and survival outcomes.

However, in an accompanying editorial, Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said high-potency bisphosphonates can lead to serious complications. He recommends further study to determine the appropriate dose and treatment time.

The second study scheduled for presentation Monday at the hematology meeting reports promising results for a regimen of imatinib (Gleevec) in patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) ALL, a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia that progresses rapidly and has a poor prognosis.

The team, led by Adele K. Fielding from University College London, tracked treatment outcomes of about 440 patients. The first group of Ph+ patients was treated solely with chemotherapy and stem cell transplants before imatinib became available in 2003. Post-2003, a second group was given 600 milligrams daily of imatinib following two rounds of chemotherapy. And in 2005, a third group received an earlier round of imatinib in conjunction with a second round of chemotherapy. The imatinib patients continued their drug regimen for two years.

After three years of follow-up, Fielding and colleagues found that each successive approach yielded better results. In the pre-imatinib group, the survival rate was 25 percent. By contrast, survival increased to 34 percent among the imatinib post-chemotherapy group and to 48 percent among the with-chemotherapy group.

The authors concluded that early treatment with imatinib can optimize long-term survival.

The findings of both studies "make sense" to Dr. Marshall Lichtman, a professor of medicine and biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y.

"In regard to myeloma, the last five to 10 years have seen a striking impro
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