11.09.2013 change 11.09.2013

Polish program for acute leukemia is a global standard

Polish program for acute myeloid leukemia treatment has been recognised as a new standard of treatment by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network - an American organization of the most prominent cancer experts, announced the Oncology Centre in Gliwice.

The method based on Polish drug, in comparison with the previous standard of care, offers a higher rate of complete remission and increases the percentage of cured patients by as much as 12 percent. In the high-risk group of 50-60 years old patients, the increase is as high as 22 percent.

"Naturally, this is very satisfying for the large group of scientists from 18 centres throughout the country, who are involved in this project . We used grants from the State Committee for Scientific Research, but huge amount of work, cooperation and ambitious approach of Polish doctors also contributed to the success" - told PAP Prof. Jerzy Hołowiecki of the Oncology Centre in Gliwice.

"Recognition of this method as a standard means that this treatment is considered the most appropriate" - he added. The program was developed by the Polish Group for Adult Leukemia, whose founder and chairman is Prof. Hołowiecki, one of the greatest Polish hematologists.

"Despite the efforts of many research groups, for over 25 years no one has managed to get better results than the standard program. Our program is the first to give patients a longer life. The fact that the inclusion of cladribine prooved so effective, was even a surprise for us" - said Prof. Hołowiecki .

Previous induction therapy included the use of two chemotherapeutic agents - daunorubicin and cytarabine. Polish haematologists demonstrated that extending chemotherapy with an additional drug - cladribine - significantly increases the percentage of cured patients. The program was based on the results of prospective randomised study conducted for many years by 18 Polish haematology centres, members of the Polish Group for Adult Leukemia .

The so-called induction therapy is the first phase of the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Its purpose is to achieve remission of the disease, i.e. the stage in which it is not detected by conventional laboratory tests. Remission is a condition for the next phases of the treatment, and thus the success of the entire treatment.

Last year, the results of the Polish study were published in the prestigious, highest rated oncology journal "Journal of Clinical Oncology". They were reviewed and cited by world experts in the field of oncology. The recommendations of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recognized the program as the highest reference, giving it a category I, which means that the study was carried out perfectly, and experts were unanimous.

Cladribine manufacturing process was developed many years ago at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Prof. Hołowiecki emphasised that the current manufacturer did not support the research and so far has not expressed interest in the results.

Every year, acute myeloid leukemia affects 4-7 persons in 100 thousand.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland

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