The role of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in the elderly patient with acute myeloid leukaemia

Attilio Olivieri, Monica Poggiaspalla, Antonella Poloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Older adults with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), when compared to younger patients with the same disease, have a poor prognosis and represent a discrete population in terms of disease biology, treatment-related complications, and overall outcome. As a result, older patients require distinctive management approaches. For 85%-95% of older AML patients, any therapy ultimately will be purely palliative. No randomized trial has ever demonstrated that any amount of post-remission therapy in older AML patients provides better outcomes than no post-remission therapy. The only studies demonstrating that long-term Disease Free Survival (DFS) is possible in older AML patients have included remission induction and post-remission therapy. For these reasons alternative post-remission strategies, including autologous or allogeneic transplantation have been explored also in people over sixty considered fit for aggressive therapy. Up to now the data available from clinical trials suggest that the stem cell transplant procedure is promising, and can lead to long-term survival, but it is feasible only in a minority of fit elderly patients. The main limits of Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation (ASCT) are represented by the low percentage of patients able to mobilize a sufficient amount of stem cells and by the still high relapse incidence after ASCT, especially in those with poor prognostic factors; for these patients the allogeneic transplant procedure, by using non myeloablative conditioning regimens, could offer a better chance of cure, thanks to the Graft versus Leukemia (GVL) effect, but there are no prospective trials showing the superiority of any transplant approach over conventional treatment in this subset of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-41
Number of pages5
JournalRevista Brasileira de Hematologia e Hemoterapia
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


  • Acute myeloid leukaemia
  • Autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation
  • Elderly patients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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