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Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a unique subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The prognosis of APL is changing, from the worst among AML as it used to be, to currently the best. The application of all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) to the induction therapy of APL decreases the mortality of newly diagnosed patients, thereby significantly improving the response rate. Therefore, ATRA combined with anthracycline-based chemotherapy has been widely accepted and used as a classic treatment. It has been demonstrated that high doses of cytarabine have a good effect on the prevention of relapse for high-risk patients. However, as the indications of arsenic trioxide (ATO) for APL are being extended from the original relapse treatment to the first-line treatment of de novo APL, we find that the regimen of ATRA, combined with ATO, seems to be a new treatment option because of their targeting mechanisms, milder toxicities and improvements of long-term outcomes; this combination may become a potentially curable treatment modality for APL. We discuss the therapeutic strategies for APL, particularly the novel approaches to newly diagnosed patients and the handling of side effects of treatment and relapse treatment, so as to ensure each newly diagnosed patient of APL the most timely and best treatment.


J-Q Mi, J-M Li, Z-X Shen, S-J Chen, Z Chen. How to manage acute promyelocytic leukemia. Leukemia. 2012 Aug;26(8):1743-51

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PMID: 22422168

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