Models adjusted for AML and patient-specific variables showed no benefit of allogeneic HCT in patients that are older or medically infirm.
Current practice of offering HCT to older and medically infirm patients with AML is not evidence based, which calls for randomized trials.
We designed a prospective, observational study enrolling patients presenting for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at 13 institutions to analyze associations between hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) and survival, quality of life (QOL), and function in: the entire cohort, those aged ≥65 years, those with high comorbidity burden, intermediate cytogenetic risk, adverse cytogenetic risk, and first complete remission with or without measurable residual disease. Patient were assessed 8 times over 2 years. Time-dependent regression models were used. Among 692 patients that were evaluable, 46% received HCT with a 2-year survival of 58%. In unadjusted models, HCT was associated with reduced risks of mortality most of the subgroups. However, after accounting for covariates associated with increased mortality (age, comorbidity burden, disease risks, frailty, impaired QOL, depression, and impaired function), the associations between HCT and longer survival disappeared in most subgroups. Although function, social life, performance status, and depressive symptoms were better for those selected for HCT, these health advantages were lost after receiving HCT. Recipients and nonrecipients of HCT similarly ranked and expected cure as main goal of therapy, whereas physicians had greater expectations for cure than the former. Accounting for health impairments negates survival benefits from HCT for AML, suggesting that the unadjusted observed benefit is mostly owing to selection of the healthier candidates. Considering patients’ overall expectations of cure but also the QOL burdens of HCT motivate the need for randomized trials to identify the best candidates for HCT. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT01929408.