Treatment advances have not improved the early death rate in acute promyelocytic leukemia

Haematologica. 2012 Jan;97(1):133-6. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2011.046490. Epub 2011 Oct 11.


Early mortality in acute promyelocytic leukemia has been reported to occur in less than 10% of patients treated in clinical trials. This study reports the incidence and clinical features of acute promyelocytic leukemia patients treated at Stanford Hospital, CA, USA since March 1997, focusing on early mortality. We show that the risk of early death in acute promyelocytic leukemia patients is higher than previously reported. In a cohort of 70 patients who received induction therapy at Stanford Hospital, 19% and 26% died within seven and 30 days of admission, respectively. High early mortality was not limited to our institution as evaluation of the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Database demonstrated that 30-day mortality for acute promyelocytic leukemia averaged 20% from 1977-2007 and did not improve significantly over this interval. Our findings show that early death is now the greatest contributor to treatment failure in this otherwise highly curable form of leukemia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / epidemiology
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / mortality*
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • SEER Program
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult