High-risk acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) remains a therapeutic challenge, with higher associated rates of early mortality and relapse than standard-risk APL. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) plus arsenic trioxide (ATO) is a well-established treatment for patients with standard-risk APL, but it is not well defined for those with high-risk APL. In a prior study of patients with high-risk APL, the addition of gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO) to ATO plus ATRA suggested benefit. The SWOG Cancer Research Network conducted a phase 2 study to confirm the efficacy and safety of the combination of ATRA plus ATO plus GO in treating high-risk APL patients. The primary end points were 3-year event-free survival (EFS) and early (6-week) death rates associated with this combination. Seventy patients were treated. With a median follow-up of 3.4 years, the 3-year EFS and overall survival estimates were 78% (95% confidence interval [CI], 67%-86%) and 86% (95% CI, 75%-92%), respectively. Overall, 86% of patients achieved complete response. The 6-week mortality rate was 11%. The most common treatment-emergent toxicities during the induction phase included febrile neutropenia, aspartate aminotransferase/alanine aminotransferase elevation, hyperglycemia, hypoxia, headache, and prolonged QT interval corrected for heart rate. Retinoic acid syndrome occurred in 9% of patients. Approximately 37% of patients did not complete all planned courses of postremission therapy. The combination of ATRA plus ATO plus GO in high-risk APL patients was effective and generally well tolerated, suggesting an opportunity to offer a chemotherapy-free induction platform for patients with this disease. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00551460.
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