Adding a treatment that makes leukemia cells more sensitive to chemotherapy may increase disease-free survival for those with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
People with AML often suffer relapses of the disease due to small numbers of cancer cells that escape the toxic effects of initial treatment with chemotherapy. Studies conducted in the laboratory show growth factors can increase the sensitivity of AML cells to chemotherapy, and a few small and uncontrolled studies in patients seem to back up this premise. However, large controlled studies have been lacking.
In this study, investigators randomly assigned 640 patients with previously untreated AML to receive either standard chemotherapy or chemotherapy and treatment with a growth factor known as granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, or G-CSF. While patients in the two groups initially showed similar response rates, a long-term follow up showed those in the G-CSF group had better results over time.
The investigators conclude, "Sensitization of leukemic cells with growth factors is a clinically applicable means of enhancing the efficacy of chemotherapy in patients with AML."