Modern approaches to treating acute promyelocytic leukemia

Miguel A. Sanz, Francesco Lo-Coco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The advent of all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) and its combination with anthracycline-containing chemotherapy have contributed in the past 2 decades to optimize the antileukemic efficacy in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), leading to complete remission rates greater than 90%, virtual absence of resistance, and cure rates of nearly 80%. Recently reported studies from large cooperative trials have also shown that more rational delivery of treatment and improved outcomes may derive from the use of risk-adapted protocols. In particular, patients at higher risk of relapse (ie, those presenting with WBC > 10 × 10 9/L) seem to benefit from treatments that include cytarabine in the ATRA-plus-chemotherapy scheme, whereas patients with standard-risk disease can be successfully managed with less-intensive regimens that contain ATRA and anthracycline-based chemotherapy. After the outstanding results with arsenic trioxide (ATO) in the treatment of APL relapse, several experimental trials have been designed to explore the role of ATO in front-line therapy with the aim not only of minimizing the use of chemotherapy but also to reinforce standard ATRA-plus-chemotherapy regimens and additionally improve therapeutic efficacy. In this review article, we discuss most recent advances in the treatment of patients with newly diagnosed and relapsed APL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-503
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Feb 10 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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