Intensive Chemotherapy Does Help Elderly

Aggressive treatment works with leukemia patients aged 75 and older, study finds

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MONDAY, June 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Intensive chemotherapy treatment benefits people aged 75 and older with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) as much as it does slightly younger people, says a French study in the June 7 online edition of Cancer.

The finding contradicts the widely held belief that elderly patients don't benefit from such treatment. The study concluded that such age cutoffs by themselves are not appropriate when making AML treatment decisions.

The study included 110 AML patients over age 75 and 200 AML patients aged 65 to 74. They all received similar chemotherapy treatment.

The two groups had similar rates of complete remission (CR) and two-year survival rates. The most common treatment given to the two groups -- anthracyclin-based induction chemotherapy -- resulted in CR rates of 45 percent in the over-75 group and 49 percent in the 65 to 74 age group.

This treatment also produced similar two-year survival rates in the two groups -- 27 percent in those over age 75 and 25 percent in those aged 65-74.

The study found that treatment, not age, was the best predictor of survival among these patients. It also found that achieving CR resulted in longer survival, regardless of a patient's age.

AML is a common cancer in people over age 60 and has a three-year survival rate of less than 10 percent.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about acute myelogenous leukemia.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, June 7, 2004

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