Reduced-intensity melphalan-based conditioning provides the best survival in older AML patients undergoing stem cell transplantation.
A more intense myeloablative conditioning regimen does not provide a survival benefit in these patients.
The optimal conditioning regimen for older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains unclear. In this study, we compared outcomes of AML patients >60 years of age undergoing allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation at our institution. All 404 consecutively treated patients received 1 of the following conditioning regimens: (1) fludarabine+melphalan 100 mg/m2 (FM100), (2) fludarabine+melphalan 140 mg/m2 (FM140), (3) fludarabine+IV busulfan AUC ≥ 5000/d × 4 d (Bu≥20000), and (4) fludarabine+IV busulfan AUC 4000/d × 4 d (Bu16000). A propensity score analysis (PSA) was used to compare outcomes between these 4 groups. Among the 4 conditioning regimens, the FM100 group had a significantly better long-term survival with 5-year progression-free survival of 49% vs 30%, 34%, and 23%, respectively. The benefit of the FM100 regimen resulted primarily from the lower nonrelapse mortality associated with this regimen, an effect more pronounced in patients with lower performance status. The PSA confirmed that FM100 was associated with better posttransplantation survival, whereas no significant differences were seen between the other regimen groups. In summary, older patients with AML benefited from a reduced-intensity conditioning regimen with lower melphalan doses (FM100), which was associated with better survival, even though it was primarily used in patients who could not receive a more intense conditioning regimen.