Treatment of Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia in Adults

J Oncol Pract. 2018 Nov;14(11):649-657. doi: 10.1200/JOP.18.00328.


The treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) has evolved rapidly in the past two decades after the introduction of highly active drugs, including tretinoin (all- trans-retinoic acid) and arsenic trioxide. It is now possible to treat this disease without the use of traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy. Today's clinical guidelines include multiple regimens, some of which continue to use cytotoxic chemotherapy. This leaves the practicing oncologist with multiple treatment options when faced with a new case of APL. In an effort to standardize our approach to the treatment of newly diagnosed APL, we sought to develop a set of treatment recommendations at our institution. We identified eight major controversial issues in the treatment of APL. These controversial issues include the optimal dose and schedule of both all- trans-retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide, the optimal regimen for high-risk APL, the need for intrathecal prophylaxis, the use of prophylactic corticosteroids, and the need for maintenance therapy after consolidation. We reviewed the relevant literature and used the Delphi method among the coauthors to reach consensus for recommendations on the basis of the best available data and our own clinical experience. In this clinical review, we present our consensus recommendations, the reasoning behind them, and the grading of the evidence that supports them.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Arsenic Trioxide / administration & dosage
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / secondary
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Consolidation Chemotherapy
  • Disease Management
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Expert Testimony
  • Humans
  • Induction Chemotherapy
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / therapy*
  • Maintenance Chemotherapy
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Tretinoin / administration & dosage


  • Tretinoin
  • Arsenic Trioxide