(HealthDay News) — Many older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) do not receive any active treatment, and they have worse survival than those receiving active treatment, according to a study published online Sept. 4 in Cancer.

Amer M. Zeidan, M.B.B.S., from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis to determine the prevalence, temporal trends, and factors associated with no active treatment (NAT) among older patients with AML. Data were included for 14,089 patients who were diagnosed with AML at age ≥66 years during 2001 through 2013.

The researchers found that over time, the percentage of patients with NAT decreased, from 59.7 percent among those diagnosed in 2001 to 42.8 percent among those diagnosed in 2013. Among the entire cohort, median overall survival was 82 days from the time of diagnosis. Compared with those receiving active treatment, patients receiving NAT had worse survival. Higher odds of NAT were seen in association with older age, certain sociodemographic characteristics (household income within the lowest quartile, residence outside the Northeast region of the United States, and being unmarried), and clinical factors (three or more comorbidities, presence of mental disorders, recent hospitalization, and disability).

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“Identifying potential barriers to optimal treatment is important to improve outcomes and quality of life in this patient population, especially as novel oral therapies are entering the U.S. market,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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