Oncology Central

Management of older adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia: challenges & current approaches



The management of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in older patients is challenging. Older patients often have multiple comorbidities and poor performance status, and disease factors associated with poor prognosis are more common in this age group. Patient and disease-related factors should be taken into account to determine whether intensive therapy is appropriate. The use of comorbidity indices and comprehensive geriatric assessment tools can be valuable in this setting. Fit patients should be considered for aggressive therapies including allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, whereas low intensity options may be more suitable for the frail. The Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome is present in up to half of the cases of ALL in older patients. The incorporation of TK inhibitors into the treatment plans of older patients with Ph-positive ALL has improved the outcomes significantly. For less fit patients with Ph-positive ALL, the use of TK inhibitors with reduced-intensity chemotherapy or steroids alone results in high rates of remission, but, without further consolidation, relapses are inevitable. Many novel targeted and immunotherapeutic agents are being developed, offering more effective and tolerable treatment options.

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