The following article features coverage from the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. Click here to read more of Hematology Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Among patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), patient education may be necessary to help mitigate the risk of undertreatment leading to worse clinical outcomes, according to research presented at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

Patients diagnosed with AML may undergo a range of therapy regimens, ranging from hospice care and best supportive care to intensive chemotherapy (IC) and non-intensive chemotherapy (NIC). While more intensive care is likely to be more effective at treating disease, some patients may opt for NIC or other, less intensive care in order to avoid treatment-associated toxicity.

For this interview-based study, researchers attempted to determine factors leading to treatment decisions among patients with AML, along with the relative importance of these factors. All interviews were 1 hour long and were conducted on a 1-on-1 basis. Eligible patients were older than 65 years.

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Overall, 28 patients were included, as well as 25 patient–family members and 10 independent physicians. A total of 13 patients had never had any AML treatment, 11 patients were actively on NIC, 3 patients had discontinued NIC, and 1 patient was receiving best supportive care.

Treatment side effects were listed as “very important” factors by 69.2% of patients and 92.3% of relatives among those who had never undergone NIC. These findings contrasted with ratings of patients who had undergone NIC (45.5% of responding patients and 27.3% of relatives listed side effects as very important factors).

A total of 9 of 13 patients who had never had NIC treatment listed side effects as their reason for opting out of NIC, although the presenter noted it was unclear whether patients were referring to NIC or IC when making this decision.

Although 2 of 14 patients who had undergone NIC discontinued treatment because of side effects, 9 patients said that the side effects did not meaningfully affect their well-being.

“In conclusion, there may be value in more patient education and resources about the lived experience of AML treatment to mitigate against possible misconceptions and to better inform and tailor treatment decisions,” the presenter said.

Disclosure: Some [or one] study author(s) declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. 

Read more of Hematology Advisor’s coverage of the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting by visiting the conference page.


Maze D, Walter RB, Merino DM, et al. A mixed methods study exploring the role of perceived side effects on treatment decision-making in older adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). J Clin Oncol. 2021;39:(suppl 15; abstr 7016). doi:10.1200/JCO.2021.39.15_suppl.7016