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Study finds Teenagers Newly Diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia at Higher Risk for Treatment Related Death


Two studies to open aimed at preventing infection deaths in 16-20 year olds with acute myelogenous leukemia. 

Bethesda, MD – In a cross-study analysis of four trials, researchers found that adolescents age 16-20 who are newly diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) are more than twice as likely to die from complications of treatment than are their younger counterparts.  The increase is due to higher infection rates. The findings were announced today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual conference in Chicago.

To conduct the study, researchers from the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) examined the results of four previous trials involving 1,840 patients with a median age of patients under 16 years old of 6.9 and a median age of patients between 16-20 years old of 17.2.  All of the patients completed clinical trials for AML.  

Acute myelogenous leukemia is a cancer characterized by rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells which accumulate in bone marrow and negatively impact production of normal blood cells.  While more common in adults than children, AML is diagnosed in approximately 500 children and adolescents under age 20 each year.  Treatment for AML involves intensive chemotherapy, which weakens the immune system, predisposing patients to serious infections.

According to John Horan, MD, pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta and co-author of the study, researchers do not yet know why adolescent patients are more likely to die from infection. “It is important that we answer this question so we can prevent these deaths in future patients,” said Horan.

As one next step, researchers plan to analyze the findings of two trials, one which recently finished and one which is about to open.  Both of these trials are collecting detailed information on infection, including factors which predispose patients to them.  Ultimately, this could lead to strategies to reduce or prevent these excess infections among adolescents with AML.

“Going forward, there are two studies opening to determine if doctors can effectively prevent infection from occurring in the first place through the prophylactic use of antibiotics and antifungals,” said Jason Canner, DO, pediatric oncologist at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study.

In addition to disease specific committees, the Children’s Oncology Group maintains the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Committee whose work is dedicated to addressing the medical and psychosocial needs of adolescents and young adults across the spectrum of cancer survivorship.  The COG AYA Committee has worked in partnership with the COG Myeloid Diseases Committee to complete this study.

This study was funded by CureSearch for Children’s Cancer via a grant from Aflac.  Aflac is a long time supporter of the Children’s Oncology Group AYA Cancer Research Program.  

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About CureSearch for Children's Cancer
CureSearch for Children's Cancer is a not-for-profit foundation which funds the lifesaving, collaborative research of the Children's Oncology Group, the largest children's cancer research organization in the world. With more than 210 member hospitals world wide and 6,500 physicians, nurses and researchers, member hospitals treat more than 90 percent of children with cancer in the U.S.  For more information, visit www.curesearch.org.

Christine Bork
Email Christine
(240) 235-2208



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