Purpose: Although standard chemotherapy remains associated with a poor outcome in older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), it is unclear which patients can survive long enough to be considered as cured. This study aimed to identify factors influencing the long-term outcome in these patients.
Patients and methods: The study included 727 older patients with AML (median age, 67 years) treated in two idarubicin (IDA) versus daunorubicin (DNR) Acute Leukemia French Association trials. Prognostic analysis was based on standard univariate and multivariate models and also included a cure fraction model to focus on long-term outcome.
Results: Age, WBC count, secondary AML, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS), and adverse-risk and favorable-risk AML subsets (European LeukemiaNet classification) all influenced complete remission (CR) rate and overall survival (OS). IDA random assignment was associated with higher CR rate, but not with longer OS (P = .13). The overall cure rate was 13.3%. Older age and ECOG-PS more than 1 negatively influenced cure rate, which was higher in patients with favorable-risk AML (39.1% v 8.0% in adverse-risk AML; P < .001) and those treated with IDA (16.6% v 9.8% with DNR; P = .018). The long-term impact of IDA was still observed in patients younger than age 65 years, although all of the younger patients in the DNR control arm received high DNR doses (cure rate, 27.4% for IDA v 15.9% for DNR; P = .049). In multivariate analysis, IDA random assignment remained associated with a higher cure rate (P = .04), together with younger age and favorable-risk AML, despite not influencing OS (P = .11).
Conclusion: In older patients with AML, younger age, favorable-risk AML, and IDA treatment predict a better long-term outcome.