We designed a multicenter randomized trial comparing chemotherapy with daunorubicin-Ara C (chemotherapy group) and all transretinoic acid (ATRA) combined to the same chemotherapy (ATRA group) in newly diagnosed APL patients aged 65 years or less. The major endpoint of the study was event-free survival (EFS) (“events” being defined as failure to achieve complete remission [CR], occurrence of relapse, or death in CR). Early termination of the trial was decided after the first interim analysis, as EFS was significantly higher in the ATRA group. At the time, 101 patients had been randomized (54 in the ATRA group and 47 in the chemotherapy group). In the ATRA group, 49 (91%) patients achieved CR, 5 (9%) had early death, and 0 had resistant leukemia, compared with 38 (81%), 4 (8%), and 5 (10%) patients, respectively, in the chemotherapy group. The difference in CR rate between the two groups was not significant. The duration of coagulopathy was significantly reduced in the ATRA group, compared with the chemotherapy group. In the ATRA group, six patients relapsed after 7 to 15.5 months. In the chemotherapy group, 12 patients relapsed after 1 to 16 months, and 2 died in CR. Kaplan-Meier EFS was estimated at 79% +/- 7% and 50% +/- 9% at 12 months, respectively, in the ATRA and the chemotherapy group (P = .001). Kaplan-Meier estimate of relapse was 19% +/- 8% and 40% +/- 12% at 12 months (P = .005). In conclusion, ATRA followed by chemotherapy increases EFS in newly diagnosed APL. These results strongly suggest that ATRA should be incorporated in the front line therapy of newly diagnosed APL.

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