Pune: In a recent paper published in the Hematology and Transfusion International Journal on May 25 by city-based Dr Vijay Ramanan, it is stated that elderly patients suffering from acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of cancer, can get a better quality life by using medication for three to six months over aggressive chemotherapy.
This treatment can also be availed by patients between the age of 30 years and 60 years, who cannot afford expensive treatment.
AML is a haematological malignancy more commonly seen in elderly patients. Patients with the condition, who are older than 60 years, are internationally labelled as having elderly AML. The disease has a markedly poor prognosis with a mean five-year survival rate of 15 per cent.
Speaking about the treatment, Dr Ramanan said the overall treatment otherwise is costly and patients beyond the age of 60 years might not be able to cope with it.
“We have tried this technique on many patients. For the research papers, we have used 14 patients and the technique was successful on them. For AML, many affected patients are beyond the age of 60 years. So, it becomes very tricky. Hence, through this type of treatment, the focus can be on better quality life than cure,” said Ramanan.
He added that AML in elderly, relapsed, refractory or financially challenged patients poses a unique challenge.
“Due to limitations in standard treatment protocols, we considered a unique approach of attacking the leukemic stem cells with a combination of medication, namely lenalidomide and low dose cytosine. The use of this medication offers an outpatient treatment option. Furthermore, while conventional treatment in India can cost up to $20,000 for a 5-month cycle and carries with it a significant risk, this particular medication option costs about $200 per cycle or about $1,000 for a 5-month treatment course,” stated Dr Ramanan in his paper.
Further, according to this paper, retrospective analysis of 14 patients reveals survival of 10 months to few years.
“There is a compelling evidence to pursue a milder, outpatient regimen in elderly AML and AML patients, who cannot afford conventional intensive treatment. Quality of life rather than just cure should be the aim of treating elderly AML,” concluded Dr Ramanan.