Young Survivors of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Face High Risk of Future Health Complications

According to data from a new study, adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients who were treated for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) face a high risk of developing long-term health complications later in life.

Researchers from UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed comprehensive data from the California Cancer Registry on 1,168 AYA patients between the ages of 15 and 39 who were treated for AML between 1996 and 2012.

The researchers found that 10 years after AML diagnosis, some patients developed an endocrine disease (26%), a cardiovascular disease (19%), or a respiratory disease (7%). Other serious illnesses such as cancer occurred less frequently. AYA survivors who underwent bone marrow transplant were at least twice as likely to later experience severe health complications.

Hispanic, Black, and Asian/Pacific Islander AML survivors were at an increased risk of many of the late effect conditions. Socioeconomic status at the time of AML diagnosis was also associated with high risk of late effects.

AYA survivors were also found to suffer a higher financial burden compared to younger or older cancer survivors.

Many factors may lead to disparities in disease burden according to the researchers, including differences in therapeutic management, patient responses, high-risk mutations, or coexisting diseases. The risk of late effects may be compounded by lifestyle habits like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, non-protected sun exposure, and poor diet.

“Our findings can help clinicians and policymakers develop better survivorship care plans to reduce suffering and death among AYA survivors of AML,” said lead author, Renata Abrahão, MD, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at UCDCCC, said in a press release.

This study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.