Research shows survival benefit for leukemia patients treated with arsenic trioxide

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Through participation in a government-sponsored multi-year study, researchers at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest University have helped confirm that arsenic trioxide marketed as Trisenox significantly improves patient survival when coupled with standard chemotherapy treatment in newly diagnosed patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia, or APL.

Bayard Powell, M.D., principal investigator of the study and professor and section head of Hematology and Oncology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, presented the findings today at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Nearly 600 patients in the U.S. and Canada participated in the phase III study over a six-year period from June 1999 through March 2005. The study was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and led by one of its cooperative groups, the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB). The Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest University is a member of CALGB.

Patients receiving the arsenic trioxide had a significantly higher likelihood of remaining disease-free, with longer survival than those receiving standard chemotherapy alone, said Powell. The results are so compelling that we recommend use of arsenic trioxide in first-line treatment of APL.

APL is a cancer of the bone marrow in which cancerous cells eventually crowd out the healthy blood cells needed for the body to function normally.

Karen Shelton, a 58 year-old nurse from Kannapolis, was diagnosed with APL in 2001. Ms. Shelton was offered the opportunity to participate in the arsenic trioxide trial. I was eager to take part in the study. Even if it didnt help me, it might help others, she said. She was one of 26 patients enrolled through Wake Forest Baptist.

In remission for nearly six years, Shelton is an advocate of the therapy. I truly believe chemotherapy put me in remission, but the arseni

Contact: Jonnie Rohrer
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

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