Background: Even though acute myeloid leukemia (AML) occurs most commonly in adults ≥60 years, the treatment of AML in older patients remains a significant challenge.
Methods: We reviewed the current literature regarding patient assessment tools, treatment options, and current therapies in clinical trial for patients with AML who are ≥60 years.
Results: Our approach to the older patient with AML is evolving with better understanding of the unique disease epidemiology in this population and the development of tools to assess individual patient functional status, including grading systems for comorbidities, geriatric assessment tools, and measurements of frailty. Almost all older patients will benefit from therapy, whether intensive curative therapy, such as allogeneic stem cell transplant that should be considered whenever possible, or low-intensity therapy that should be offered with concurrent palliative care at diagnosis to improve patient survival and quality of life. To achieve the improved survival demonstrated in younger adults, older patients should also be considered for clinical trial enrollment as more studies are being designed to specifically target this unique patient population.
Conclusion: Older patients with AML are candidates for and benefit from the entire spectrum of AML therapy, including intense chemotherapy, allogeneic stem cell transplant, and clinical trial participation after thorough patient assessment. Older patients with AML would benefit from increased clinical trial enrollment and early inclusion of palliative medicine.
Keywords: Aged; chemotherapy; leukemia–myeloid–acute; palliative medicine; transplantation–homologous.