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Low-dose decitabine for previously untreated acute myeloid leukemia ineligible for intensive chemotherapy aged 65 years or older: a prospective study based on comprehensive geriatric assessment.

BACKGROUND: The outcome of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) aged ⩾65 years is poor. Effective treatment options are limited for patients with AML who cannot tolerate intensive chemotherapy.

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to evaluate the efficacy of low-dose decitabine in previously untreated patients with AML aged ⩾65 years who were ineligible for intensive chemotherapy based on a comprehensive geriatric assessment.

DESIGN: We performed a prospective, multicenter, open-label, and non-randomized study.

METHODS: Patients were enrolled at four centers in Beijing between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2020. They were treated with decitabine at a dose of 6 mg/m2 for 10 days. The treatment was repeated every 28 days for one cycle for a total of six cycles. The primary endpoint of our study was overall survival (OS) at the end of the first year after enrolment. The secondary endpoints included overall response rate, leukemia-free survival, relapse rate, treatment-related mortality (TRM), quality of life, safety, and transfusion dependence. Patients were continuously monitored for toxicity.

RESULTS: Overall, 47 patients (30 males and 17 females) participated in this study. The median age of the enrolled patients was 78 (range, 65-90) years. The median follow-up time was 22.2 (range, 4.6-38.8) months. Fifteen (31.9%) patients achieved complete remission (CR), 11 (23.4%) patients achieved partial remission, 3 (6.4%) patients achieved hematological improvement only, and 18 (38.3%) patients did not achieve remission. The median time to obtain CR was 2 months. The median CR was 8.5 months. Of the patients, 36 (76.6%) patients completed six cycles of treatment with low-dose decitabine, and the 1-year OS was 36.1%. According to instrumental activities of daily living scales, age, comorbidities, and albumin (IACA) scores, the median survival was 11.2 months in the unfit group and 6 months in the frail group. The 1-year OS rates in the unfit and frail groups were 49.2% and 23.4%, respectively. Grade ⩾3 non-hematological toxicity was observed in 70.2% (33/47) of the patients. TRM occurred in three patients. No early deaths occurred after treatment.

CONCLUSION: In newly diagnosed older patients with AML whose IACA assessment was unfit or frail for standard chemotherapy, treatment with low-dose decitabine demonstrated clinical activity and good security in our study.

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