Hypomethylating agent-based therapies in older adults with acute myeloid leukemia – A joint review by the Young International Society of Geriatric Oncology and European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation Trainee Committee

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Journal of Geriatric Oncology


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is associated with poor outcomes in older adults. A major goal of treatment is to balance quality of life and functional independence with disease control. With the approval of new, more tolerable regimens, more older adults are able to receive AML-directed therapy. Among these options are hypomethylating agents (HMAs), specifically azacitidine and decitabine. HMAs have become an integral part of AML therapy over the last two decades. These agents are used either as monotherapy or nowadays more commonly in combination with other agents such as the Bcl-2 inhibitor venetoclax. Biological AML characteristics, such as molecular and cytogenetic risk factors, play crucial roles in guiding treatment decisions. In patients with high-risk AML, HMAs are increasingly used rather than intensive chemotherapy, although further trials based on a risk-adapted approach using patient- and disease-related factors are needed. Here, we review trials and evidence for the use of HMA monotherapy and combination therapy in the management of older adults with AML. Furthermore, we discuss the use of HMAs and HMA combination therapies in AML, mechanisms of action, their incorporation into hematopoietic stem cell transplantation strategies, and their use in patients with comorbidities and reduced organ function.

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