iwAL 2019 | Emerging therapies in AML: why patients should be optimistic

Naval Daver

Here, Naval Daver, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, gives reason for optimism for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This video was recorded at the International Workshop on Acute Leukemias (iwAL) 2019, held in Barcelona, Spain.

Transcript (edited for clarity):

I think with the patients, it’s becoming a much more positive discussion. A lot of patients are still not aware of the developments in AML. They are not reading this data routinely as we are. So, they still, when they get a new diagnosis of AML, have a huge cloud of depression over them, and they’re very upset and sad, and they feel that the outcomes are very poor. Even if they go online and read the data, a lot of this is published five, six years ago, and people quote very poor survival rates.

I think talking to patients is becoming very important to let them know that there are not just one, two, three, four options, and that not only that there are many options today, but that the field is moving so quickly that if we can, let’s say, get an older AML, give them aza and venetoclax,¬†we don’t think it’s curative, we know most of these people will relapse. But if he relapses in two years, by then we may have a completely dramatic new combination that is showing blockbuster activity, the immune therapies are coming in, and we’re actually seeing this in some of our patients.

For example, I have patients who were treated with sorafenib induction chemotherapy, who then failed, and then got midostaurin, who are now failing, and, guess what? Gilteritinib just got approved. I am treating with gilteritinib. One is failing gilteritinib. I’m treating with quizartinib combination. So, it’s not just what’s available today and what may cure the disease. I don’t think we still have great things that we can say truly cure AML, but then CML has not been cured and people live normal lives.

But, if we can get people to live longer, the pace of the science is so good that there’s a really good chance in a year or two something better is going to come along. I think patients really are happy about that, that things keep getting better. The goal is to just try to stay alive, have as good a quality of life as possible, and that also the fact that not having to use chemotherapy, a lot of patients love that because using a pill, using a targeted therapy, is much easier to do, much less toxic. And mentally, also, I think patients feel much better with that approach.


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