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Objectives: Low-dose cytarabine (LD-AraC) is still regarded as the standard of care in elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) ‘unfit’ for intensive chemotherapy. In this study, we compared the efficacy of LD-AraC, in patients ≥ 70 years old, with that of intensive chemotherapy, best supportive care (BSC), or hypomethylating agents in a single institution experience.
Methods: Between 2000 and 2014, 60 patients received LD-AraC at 20 mg once or twice daily by subcutaneous injection for 10 consecutive days every 4-6 weeks. 85 patients were treated by intensive chemotherapy, 34 patients by hypomethylating agents, and 43 patients only by BSC.
Results: Complete remission rate with LD-AraC was 7% versus 56% with intensive chemotherapy and 21% with hypomethylating agents. Median overall survival (OS) of patients treated with LD-AraC was 9.6 months with 3-year OS of 12%. Survival with LD-AraC was better than with BSC only (P = 0.001). Although not statistically significant, intensive chemotherapy and hypomethylating agents tended to be better than LD-AraC in terms of OS (median: 12.4 months and 16.1 months, respectively). There was no clear evidence that a beneficial effect of LD-AraC was restricted to any particular subtype of patients, except for cytogenetics.
Conclusions: Despite a trend in favor of intensive chemotherapy and hypomethylating agents over LD-AraC, no real significant advantage could be demonstrated, while LD-AraC showed a significant advantage comparatively to BSC. This tends to confirm that LD-AraC can still represent a baseline against which new promising agents may be compared either alone or in combination.
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