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PURPOSE: Older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have a high relapse rate after standard chemotherapy. We investigated whether measuring chemotherapy sensitivity by multiparameter flow cytometric minimal residual disease (MFC-MRD) detection has prognostic value in patients older than age 60 years or is simply a surrogate for known age-related risk factors. PATIENT AND METHODS: Eight hundred ninety-two unselected patients treated intensively in the United Kingdom National Cancer Research Institute AML16 Trial were assessed prospectively for MFC-MRD during treatment. Eight hundred thirty-three patients had leukemia-associated immunophenotypes (LAIPs) identified by pretreatment screening. Four hundred twenty-seven patients entered complete remission (CR) after one or two courses (designated C1 and C2, respectively) and were MFC-MRD assessable by LAIP detection in CR bone marrow for at least one of these time points. MRD positivity was defined as residual disease detectable by LAIP. RESULTS: MFC-MRD negativity, which was achieved in 51% of patients after C1 (n = 286) and 64% of patients after C2 (n = 279), conferred significantly better 3-year survival from CR (C1: 42% v 26% in MRD-positive patients, P < .001; C2: 38% v 18%, respectively; P < .001) and reduced relapse (C1: 71% v 83% in MRD-positive patients, P < .001; C2: 79% v 91%, respectively; P < .001), with higher risk of early relapse in MRD-positive patients (median time to relapse, 8.5 v 17.1 months, respectively). In multivariable analysis, MRD status at the post-C1 time point independently predicted survival, identifying a subgroup of intermediate-risk patients with particularly poor outcome. However, survival benefit from gemtuzumab ozogamicin was not associated with MFC-MRD chemotherapy sensitivity. CONCLUSION: Early assessment of treatment response using flow cytometry provides powerful independent prognostic information in older adults with AML, lending support to the incorporation of MRD detection to refine risk stratification and inform clinical trial design in this challenging group of patients.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Oncol

Publication Date





4123 - 4131


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aminoglycosides, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized, Antineoplastic Agents, Disease-Free Survival, Female, Flow Cytometry, Humans, Immunophenotyping, Kaplan-Meier Estimate, Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Neoplasm, Residual, Prognosis, Proportional Hazards Models, Risk Factors