The abstract and fulltext
New England Journal of Medicine 332(25): 1671-1677, 1995. is available online.
Stone RM, Berg DT, George SL, et al.
Elderly patients with primary acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) are less likely to enter remission than younger adults, in part because of a higher mortality rate related to severe myelosuppression. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) has been shown to shorten the duration of neutropenia and decrease infectious complications when administered after chemotherapy to patients with lymphomas and solid tumors.
We randomly assigned 388 patients 60 years of age or older who had newly diagnosed primary AML to receive placebo or GM-CSF (5 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day intravenously over a period of six hours) in a double-blind manner, beginning the day after the completion of three days of daunorubicin (45 mg per square meter of body-surface area per day) and seven days of cytarabine (200 mg per square meter per day by continuous intravenous infusion). If leukemia cells persisted in the marrow three weeks after the initiation of chemotherapy, further daunorubicin (two days) and cytarabine (five days) were administered. GM-CSF or placebo was given daily until the neutrophil count was at least 1000 per cubic millimeter, there was evidence of the regrowth of leukemia, or severe toxic effects attributable to the study infusion occurred. Patients who had a complete remission were then randomly assigned to receive one of two intensification regimens.
Of 388 patients (median age, 69 years), 193 were randomly assigned to receive GM-CSF and 195 to placebo. The rate of complete remission was 51 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 44 to 59 percent) among those assigned to GM-CSF and 54 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 47 to 61 percent) among those assigned to receive placebo (P = 0.61). The reasons for failure (early death, death during marrow hypoplasia, and persistent leukemia), the incidence of severe or lethal infection, and the incidence of the regrowth of leukemia (2 percent overall) were similar in the two groups. The median duration of neutropenia was slightly shorter (P = 0.02) in the patients who received GM-CSF (15 days) than in those who received placebo (17 days), but the clinical importance of this result was minimal because the growth factor failed to lower the treatment-related mortality rate or improve the rate of complete remission.
GM-CSF, in the dose and schedule we used, does not stimulate the regrowth of leukemia, but it also does not decrease the severe myelosuppressive consequences of initial chemotherapy or improve the response rate in patients 60 years of age or older with primary AML. It should not be recommended for use in such patients.
Rheinische Friedrich- Wilhelms- Universität Bonn