Just a few years ago, the treatment options for elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) were limited, but since 2017 there are now several new options for oncology professionals to choose from which have changed the approaches to treatment for elderly patients with AML, according to Pinkal Desai, MD.
At the 37th Annual Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium® Desai, an assistant professor in hematology and oncology at the Weil Cornell Medical College, had the chance to speak with OncLive®, a sister publication to Oncology Nursing News®, and discuss these updates. Desai also spoke to the challenges that remain persistent in the treatment of elderly patients with AML.
The biggest challenge is still curing patients with leukemia. So, we are fortunate, in this era of novel agents, that we are increasing the number of patients who can go into remission. So, very older patients and particularly over 70, we have never dealt with complete remission rates in the 70% range that we now get, so that's very encouraging when we get there, but in people who are younger and those still eligible for transplant within the older category, whether these agents will impact overall survival and curing these patients is something we are yet to see and discover.
Ultimately, to a patient of leukemia, that's what matters. Obviously, can I be cured from this? And in older patients where we cannot transplant them, how long can we keep them in remission with these novel agents continuously one after the other. So ultimately it is the survival and durability of leukemia that we care most about. I think getting a high remission rate is the first step towards it. Now, using all of these agents in combinations in maintenance strategies to you know, do more things post-transplant in several areas, which can impact survival and credibility of patients.