BREAKTHROUGH: Effective AML Treatment Now Possible for Over-80s! 

United States: Seniors aged above 80 with acute myeloid leukemia can, without any risks and with excellent results, undergo the standard targeted therapy for the blood cancer, revealed a new study. 

More about the new finding 

Venetoclax, which is an oral drug, normally is the first choice for older AML patients whose bodies can’t cope with the harshness of chemotherapy. 

The drug is aimed at a protein in cancer cells, which is the reason they outlive their actual lifespan. 

It is usually a combination of a hypomethylating agent that stimulates the body’s cancer-fighting abilities, thus forming the combo therapy named VEN-HMA. 

Dr. Justin Watts, a researcher and a hematologist with the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, stated, “Our study reveals that a significant portion of these patients at the extremes of older age still derive benefit from the VEN-HMA regimen — which is the standard of care for older AML patients and those who are ineligible to receive intensive chemotherapy,” as US News reported. 

Effective AML Treatment Now Possible for Over-80s. Credit | Getty Images
Effective AML Treatment Now Possible for Over-80s. Credit | Getty Images

Watts added, “While acknowledging it certainly isn’t for everyone, we hope our findings encourage health care providers to thoughtfully explore all treatment avenues for elderly patients with AML, rather than prematurely resorting to HMA alone, best supportive care or hospice care.” 

The findings of the new study were published on May 9 in the journal Blood Neoplasia. 

How was the study conducted? 

Acute myeloid leukemia which commences in the bone marrow where mostly it is transported to the blood, the American Cancer Society says. Thus, it starts its aggression from one part of the body and then it spreads to the other parts. 

The dedicated study of the group of scientists studied the electronic medical records of 154 patients who were suffering from AML and were treated with VEN-HMA between the period of March 2015 and April 2022 at six hospitals in the United States and Italy, US News reported. 

The meaning of the sentence is that the average age of the patients was 82. On the other hand, 77 Percent had no prior AML diagnosis and were newly diagnosed with one, while 10 percent had relapsed or hard-to-treat AML. 

The prolonged survival rate for the patients treated ranged from 20 percent to 25 percent, which in turn covered about 40 percent of those who reacted to the treatment. 

The average life span of those who responded to the treatment was 13.2 months, when compared with an average of 8.1 months across the whole group, researchers found. 

Average overall survival for patients who responded to the treatment was 13.2 months, compared to an average 8.1 months across the entire group, researchers found. 

At the eight months follow-up, 23 percent of the patients maintained the remission, while 20 percent of them were still undergoing the treatment, researchers stated. 

The death rates within 30 and 60 days after treatment were 8.5 percent and 17 percent, on the other hand, was the same as the earlier clinical trials with the combination therapy, researchers said. 

This treatment can impair the bone marrows capacity to produce healthy blood cells and consequently weaken the immune system, researchers pointed out. 

Hence, they are advised to lessen the dosage and length of the treatment for some. 

Watts said, “Unlike typical adult AML cases, these patients exhibit lower tolerance to venetoclax, suggesting that they may benefit from a reduced dosage,” as US News reported.