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Key reasons for leukaemia cure rate improvement

The main reason for the improvements in facing leukaemia is "the development of new treatments, combined with good levels of recruitment to UK clinical trials", according to the research's lead author.

Dr Anjali Shah, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Oxford, added:

These key issues have been effective in curing more people of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

But levels of cure of this disease in England remain lower than those observed in other European countries, such as Sweden.

The reasons for these differences are unknown.


Young are best placed to undergo leukaemia treatment

The brighter outlook for young leukaemia sufferers is because they tend to have types of the disease which are easier to treat with chemotherapy.

Younger people can also generally be given more intense treatment, and the short-term side effects can now be managed effectively.

Around 2,500 people are diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in the UK each year.

The risk of developing it increases with age and it is most common in people over 65 years old.

Rise in Leukaemia cure rate hailed by researchers

Premier League footballer Stiliyan Petrov's career was ended by acute leukaemia. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Nearly half of teenagers and young adults with a typically aggressive form of leukaemia are cured thanks to improvements in treatment and care, according to research.

The cure rate for 15 to 24-year-olds diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in 2006 is estimated at 48%, six times the rate in 1975, which was just 8%.

The research, which was published in the British Journal of Haematology, said similarly large improvements are estimated for older patients, right through to those in their fifties.

But older patients today still have poor survival - only 13% of patients diagnosed in 2006 aged 60-69 are predicted to be cured, and this drops to less than 5% of those aged 70 and over.

The research was led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and co-funded by Cancer Research UK and the Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust.

Smart drug improves survival in older patients

Kate Law, Cancer Research UK's director of clinical research, added:

In general the outlook for leukaemia patients has improved dramatically in recent decades. But when leukaemia is diagnosed in older people its much harder to treat and there is a real need for effective treatments that are suitable for this age group.

Importantly this new trial shows that GO may have particular benefits for patients over 60, who may be unsuitable for other more intensive treatments. This is good news and we are now looking to see if these results can be replicated in younger patients.

'Promising' Leukaemia study to boost patients

Chief investigator Professor Alan Burnett, from Cardiff Universitys School of Medicine, commented on the findings:

These promising results demonstrate how targeting a protein present in more than 90 per cent of AML patients can boost treatment without excessively increasing side effects.

Although there has been some controversy around the use of GO following its withdrawal in the US two years ago, these results appear extremely promising and suggest no such cause for concern if the appropriate dose is given. Crucially, this represents some of the first progress in treating AML patients of this age group for at least 20 years.


New Leukaemia treatment offers patient 'lifeline'

The results of the trial into a new type of smart drug given to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia patients show that GO treatment could improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy without excessively increasing side effects, according to the study.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said that this may provide a potential lifeline for older AML patients who are often too frail to tolerate more intensive chemotherapy regimes.

Smart drug improves survival in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia patients

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia patients given a new type of smart drug in addition to chemotherapy treatment are 22 percent less likely to relapse and around 13 percent less likely to die from their disease, according to a study released today.

The results from the major phase III Cancer Research UK-funded trial led by Cardiff University and trialled by 1,115 patients, found that 68 percent of people relapsed on the new treatment within three years, compared with 76 percent of those who had only had the standard treatment.

25 percent of those tested were still alive after three years, compared with 20 per cent of those who had the standard treatment.

The drug - called Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin (GO)* - is part of a new class of antibody conjugate drugs, which involve attaching chemotherapy molecules to antibodies.

Goodwill messages pour in for Petrov

Messages of support from Petrov's current and former teammates have poured in after the Aston Villa captain was diagnosed with Acute Leukaemia.

What is Acute Leukaemia?

Aston Villa's captain Stiliyan Petrov has been diagnosed with Acute Leukaemia and we explain the condition in more detail.

  • Leukaemia is a disease where the cause of which is unknown and the bone marrow produces large numbers of abnormal cells.
  • Acute leukaemia can progress rapidly if not treated and develops in the immature bone marrow cells.
  • Symptoms can include a pale complexion, fatigue, joint pain, nosebleeds and repeated infections such as sore throats.
  • This type of leukaemia is rare and more common in children and young people, however it requires urgent medical treatment, usually with chemotherapy.
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