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Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Recurrent Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia

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Allogeneic BMT from an HLA-matched donor in early first relapse or in second complete remission provides a DFS rate of approximately 30%.[17][Level of evidence: 3iiiA] Transplantation in early first relapse potentially avoids the toxic effects of reinduction chemotherapy.[3,17,18] Allogeneic BMT can salvage some patients whose disease fails to go into remission with intensive chemotherapy (primary refractory leukemia). Nine of 21 patients with primary refractory AML were alive and disease free at 10 years following allogeneic BMT.[7][Level of evidence: 3iiiA] Randomized trials testing the efficacy of this approach are not available. Autologous BMT is an option for patients in second complete remission, offering a DFS that may be comparable to autografting in first complete remission.[19,20,21]

Patients who relapse following an allogeneic BMT may undergo an infusion of lymphocytes from the donor (Donor Lymphocyte Infusion or DLI), similar to the therapy patients with relapsing chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) undergo. (Refer to the Relapsing Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia section of the PDQ summary on Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Treatment for more information.) There are no published studies of any prospective trials examining the role of DLI for patients with AML who relapsed following allogeneic BMT. A retrospective study of European patients found that, out of 399 patients who relapsed after an allogeneic BMT, 171 patients received DLI as part of their salvage therapy.[22] A multivariate analysis of survival showed a significant advantage for the 171 DLI recipients, who achieved a 2-year overall survival from the time of relapse of 21%, compared to 9% for the 228 patients who did not receive DLI (P < .04; RR, 0.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.64–0.99).[22][Level of evidence: 3iiiA] The strength of this finding is limited by the retrospective nature of the study, and the possibility that much of the survival advantage could have been the result of selection bias. Furthermore, the remission rate of 34% reported in this study was considerably less than the 67% to 91% reported for CML.[23] Therefore, even if the survival advantage conferred by DLI is real, the fraction of relapsed AML patients who might benefit from this therapy appears to be quite limited.

Arsenic trioxide, an agent with both differentiation-inducing and apoptosis-inducing properties against acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) cells, has a high rate of successful remission induction in patients with relapsed APL. Clinical complete remissions have been reported in 85% of patients induced with arsenic trioxide, with a median time to clinical complete remission of 59 days. Eighty-six percent of evaluable patients tested negative for the presence of PML-RARα transcript after induction or postremission therapy with arsenic trioxide. Actuarial 18-month relapse-free survival was 56%. Induction with arsenic trioxide may be complicated by APL differentiation syndrome (identical to ATRA syndrome), prolongation of QT interval, and neuropathy.[24,25] Arsenic trioxide is now being incorporated into the postremission treatment strategy of de novo APL patients in clinical trials.

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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