FRIDAY, March 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Almost half of elderly patients newly diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) do not receive treatment, according to a study recently published in Leukemia & Lymphoma.
Christopher Kim, M.P.H., Ph.D., from Amgen Inc. in Thousand Oaks, California, and colleagues analyzed Medicare ALL data from 2007 to 2015 to describe patient characteristics and treatment patterns among elderly patients (≥66 years) newly diagnosed with ALL.
The researchers found that 53.5 percent of the 1,428 patients received treatment within 90 days of diagnosis: 32.4, 8.8, 9.8, and 2.6 percent received chemotherapy without tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), chemotherapy and TKIs, steroids only, and TKIs only, respectively. Overall, 65.8 percent of the 717 patients receiving chemotherapy any time during follow-up received only one course of treatment. Compared with untreated patients, patients treated with chemotherapy or TKIs were younger (<75 years, 51.5 versus 21.7 percent) and had lower comorbidity burden (Charlson Comorbidity Index ≤2, 90.9 versus 71.4 percent). Within three years of diagnosis, 67.5 percent of patients died.
“Approximately 50 percent of elderly ALL patients do not receive treatment and have a high mortality rate, demonstrating a clear unmet need for these patients,” the authors write. “New therapies that are well tolerated in elderly patients are needed to improve outcomes for older adults with ALL.”
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