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Interactions and relevance of blast percentage and treatment strategy among younger and older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)

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Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is defined as ≥20% myeloblasts, representing a change from original guidelines where ≤30% blasts were considered as myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and 20–29% blasts classified as refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation (RAEB‐T). Whether the diagnostic bone marrow blast percentage has current value with regards to patient prognostication or identification of optimal treatment strategies is unclear. We retrospectively studied 1652 treatment‐naïve adults with MDS or AML and ≥10% blasts from January 2000 to April 2014. Patients with 20–29% blasts were more similar to MDS patients in terms of advanced age, increased frequency of poor‐risk cytogenetics, lower WBC count, and less frequent NPM1 and FLT3‐ITD mutations. Median overall survival of MDS and RAEB‐T were similar, 16.0 and 16.0 months, compared to 13.5 months for AML with ≥30% blasts (P = 0.045). Multivariate analysis showed inferior survival with increased age (HR 1.81 age 60–69, HR 2.68 age ≥70, P < 0.0005); poor‐risk cytogenetics (HR 2.25, P < 0.0005); therapy‐related disease (HR 1.44, P < 0.0005); and markers of proliferative disease including WBC ≥25 × 109/L (HR 1.35, P = 0.0003), elevated LDH count (HR 1.24, P = 0.0015), and peripheral blasts (HR 1.25, P = 0.004). Among younger patients (≤60 years), intensive AML‐type therapy resulted in similar outcomes regardless of blast percentage, suggesting this to be optimal therapy in this context. Among older patients (≥70 years), patients with 20–29% blasts had similar outcomes to patients with <20% blasts, and better than those with ≥30% blasts. In addition, among older patients, epigenetic therapy provided at least equivalent outcome to intensive chemotherapy. Am. J. Hematol. 91:227–232, 2016. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2016

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