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Survival Trends in South Australia Suggest Better Therapies Needed for Older Patients With Leukemias

By: Vanessa A. Carter, BS
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Population trends in 5-year survival rates for patients with acute leukemias in South Australia were examined by Kerri Beckmann, PhD, of the University of South Australia, Adelaide, and colleagues. The results of this analysis, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, demonstrated that survival was steadily improved from 1980 to 2016 in younger patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), although survival is still relatively poor among patients aged 50 and older and newer, more effective therapies for this group are sorely needed to improve outcomes.

“Survival improved steadily across the study period: from 44% for people with ALL diagnosed during 1980–1984 to 69% for those diagnosed during 2010‒2016; and from 9% to 23% for people diagnosed with AML,” Dr. Beckmann and colleagues stated in a press release. However, “disease-specific survival of older patients with acute leukemia remains disappointingly low, particularly for people with AML.”

This retrospective analysis used the South Australian Cancer Registry data of 2,814 people diagnosed with AML and 1,035 patients diagnosed with ALL from 1980 to 2016. The main outcome measures of this study were 5-year disease-specific survival and disease-specific mortality.

Patients diagnosed with AML had a 5-year disease-specific survival of 18%. Among patients diagnosed with ALL during 1980 to 2016, the crude 5-year disease-specific survival was 58%. Across the study period, the survival of participants diagnosed with AML increased from 9% during the 1980s to 23% during the 2010s. Additionally, the survival of those with ALL increased from 44% during the 1980s to 69% during the 2010s.

Although disease-specific mortality increased with age, it did not appear to be influenced by remoteness of residence or socioeconomic status. Notably, the improvements among rates of change in leukemia-related death were observed to be greater in younger than older patients with AML (P = .005) or ALL (P = .004) and again were not influenced by other factors.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.


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