Comparison of Reduced-Intensity Idarubicin and Daunorubicin Plus Cytarabine as Induction Chemotherapy for Elderly Patients with Newly Diagnosed Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Clin Drug Investig. 2017 Feb;37(2):167-174. doi: 10.1007/s40261-016-0469-9.


Background and objectives: The therapy in elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a big challenge because of poor risk factors and inferior tolerance to intensive chemotherapy. This study aims to compare the efficacy between reduced-intensity idarubicin plus cytarabine and daunorubicin plus cytarabine (IA regimen and DA regimen, respectively) in elderly patients with newly diagnosed AML.

Methods: We retrospectively investigated 74 patients with newly diagnosed non-M3 AML aged >60 years, where 33 patients received IA regimen, 30 patients received DA regimen, while 11 patients received supportive treatment. We observed the complete remission (CR) rates, overall survival (OS) and side effects in different arms.

Results: The CR rate in IA arm (70.4 %, 19/27) was significantly higher than that in DA arm (40 %, 10/25) in de novo AML (p = 0.028), and further significantly higher when white blood cell (WBC) count >10 × 109/L (p = 0.042) and ECOG (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group) score <2 (p = 0.021). The overall survival of the entire population was poor with a median survival of 10 months, 1- and 2-year survival rates were 40.5 % (30/74) and 9.5 % (7/74). The median survival of the patients with chemotherapy was 12 months, which was significantly longer than patients treated supportively (4 months) (p < 0.001). There were no differences of median survival and duration of CR between two arms. Early mortality decreased in the past 5 years in both groups. Meanwhile, low-dose idarubicin was well tolerated in elderly patients.

Conclusions: Reduced-intensity chemotherapy offered an improvement in survival, and the reduced-intensity IA regimen could improve CR rate in elderly patients with de novo AML.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Cytarabine / administration & dosage
  • Daunorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Idarubicin / administration & dosage
  • Induction Chemotherapy
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Safety
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Cytarabine
  • Idarubicin
  • Daunorubicin