Treatment and outcome of 103 consecutive patients aged ≥ 60 with de novo acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL) were reviewed. Twenty-three cases (22%) were not suitable for induction chemotherapy because of very poor presenting general conditions and could receive supportive care alone. The majority of them died within 1 month. Twenty-eight patients (27%) aged ≥ 70 and/or with concurrent nonhematologic disorders underwent mild induction chemotherapy, which produced 3 complete remissions. The median survival for this group was 2 months. Only 52 patients (50%) were considered eligible for conventional induction chemotherapy. For this group, response rate was 34.5%, the median survival was 3.5 months, and median survival for responding patients was 13 months. Only intensive chemotherapy seems capable of substantially improving prognosis for older ANLL patients. This approach, however, is feasible only in a minority of patients, due to a high incidence of life-threatening complications.

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