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Less Is More With Acute Myeloid Leukemia Drug
Date:3/16/2011

the high doses were more likely to suffer side effects than those given the lower doses, the researchers added. These included skin reactions and gastrointestinal and ocular toxic effects. Also, those given the high dose had longer hospital stays and delays in the recovery of white blood cells and platelets.

"The current standard of treatment with high-dose cytarabine, one of the major chemotherapeutic agents applied in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia, represents an overdose," Lowenberg said.

One-tenth of the standard dose produces equally effective treatment, but with less toxicity, shorter hospital stays and fewer transfusions, he added.

"The lower-dose level also involves reduced costs," Lowenberg said. "These results set a new standard of care for the therapy of acute myeloid leukemia."

Dr. Mark H. Kirschbaum, an associate member for malignant hematology at the Nevada Cancer Institute in Las Vegas, said that "this is a very important study that will likely impact upon the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia, particularly the older patient population, who clinically have always seemed to suffer from significant toxicity with higher-dose regimens."

"Hopefully progress in the molecular therapeutics of leukemia will allow us to more safely treat patients, particularly the older patients who make up the large majority of new AML patients, in a less toxic manner," he said.

More information

For more information on acute myeloid leukemia, visit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

SOURCES: Bob Lowenberg, M.D., Ph.D., professor, hematology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Mark H. Kirschbaum, M.D., associate member, malignant hematology, Nevada Cancer Institute, Las Vegas; March 17, 2011, New England Journal of Medicine


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