According to results recently presented at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, research suggests that adolescents and young adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) may have better survival when treated on pediatric rather than adult treatment protocols.

Acute myeloid leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood characterized by the rapid uncontrolled abnormal growth of immature white blood cells known as myelocytes. The disease is more common in adults than in children, with the average age at diagnosis being more than 65 years. The treatment of AML in children may be more aggressive than in adults due to the generally more acute nature of AML in children. Patients under the age of 16 are almost always treated with pediatric protocols, but patients between the ages of 16 and 21 can be treated with either pediatric or adult treatment protocols.

Researchers recently compared the results of patients between the ages of 16 and 21 with AML treated on the Children’s Cancer Study Group (CCG) pediatric protocols to results of patients treated on the MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) adult treatment protocols. Patients treated on the CCG pediatric protocol had a survival rate of 51%, which was similar to patients 0 to 16 years old (49%). Patients treated on the MDACC adult protocol had a survival of 32%, which was the same as patients age 21 to 41 years old.

These results indicate that patients with AML ages 16 to 21 may have a better survival when treated with pediatric protocols rather than adult protocols. Future clinical trials may further define the role of pediatric protocols for young adult AML patients. Patients with AML may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating the efficacy of pediatric protocols as well as other novel approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include comprehensive, easy-to-use listing services provided by the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) and www.eCancerTrials.com. eCancerTrials.com also provides personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients.

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(Proceedings from the 43rdannual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, abstract # 1934, Orlando, Florida, December 11-14, 2001)

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