More than 90 percent of children and young adults who survive five years or longer after diagnosis and treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are alive 20 years later and leading productive lives, according to a University of Minnesota study. On a cautionary note, the study reports these survivors need to be regularly evaluated and treated for health problems that may occur later in life as a result of their initial cancer and its treatment.
These are the main findings of the first comprehensive study to analyze 20 years of follow-up on survivors who were diagnosed and treated for AML as children and young adults. Daniel Mulrooney, M.D., a pediatric oncologist and researcher at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Cancer Center, led the research team on this study. He will report the findings on Dec. 11, 2006 at the 48th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in Orlando, Fla. (Abstract # 560) "The favorable survival rates indicate the tremendous progress that has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of AML in children and young adults," says Mulrooney. "However, health issues occurring later in life remain an area of concern. It is crucial that these survivors continue to be evaluated in a long-term, follow-up clinic where a physician familiar with the unique issues of cancer survivors can review their previous treatment and screen for late effects of that treatment."
Leukemias are the most common cancer affecting children and young adults. AML, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, accounts for about 25 percent of all childhood leukemias. Significant research advances at the University of Minnesota and other cancer centers over the past 30 years have resulted in better treatments and dramatically improved survival rates. But limited information exists about the medical and social outcomes of the children and young adults aggressively treated for AML.