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Therapy-related acute promyelocytic leukemia (t-APL) is relatively rare, with limited data on outcome after treatment with arsenic trioxide (ATO) compared to standard intensive chemotherapy (CTX). We evaluated 103 adult t-APL patients undergoing treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) alone (n=7) or in combination with ATO (n=24), CTX (n=53), or both (n=19). Complete remissions were achieved after induction therapy in 57% with ATRA, 100% with ATO/ATRA, 78% with CTX/ATRA, and 95% with CTX/ATO/ATRA. Early death rates were 43% for ATRA, 0% for ATO/ATRA, 12% for CTX/ATRA and 5% for CTX/ATO/ATRA. Three patients relapsed, two developed therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia and 13 died in remission including seven patients with recurrence of the prior malignancy. Median follow-up for survival was 3.7 years. None of the patients treated with ATRA alone survived beyond one year. Event-free survival was significantly higher after ATO-based therapy (95%, 95% CI, 82-99%) as compared to CTX/ATRA (78%, 95% CI, 64-87%; P=0.042), if deaths due to recurrence of the prior malignancy were censored. The estimated 2-year overall survival in intensively treated patients was 88% (95% CI, 80-93%) without difference according to treatment (P=0.47). ATO when added to ATRA or CTX/ATRA is feasible and leads to better outcomes as compared to CTX/ATRA in t-APL.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2347 - 2354


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Arsenic Trioxide, Arsenicals, Female, Humans, Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasms, Second Primary, Oxides, Remission Induction, Survival Analysis, Treatment Outcome, Young Adult