For many years the treatment of acute leukemia in adults was a fruitless venture that was discouraging to both patient and physician. Remissions were achieved infrequently and were usually of short duration. However, a few patients remained in complete remission for prolonged periods, serving as a source of encouragement to those investigators who persisted in their attempts to improve the therapy of this disease. During the past decade, two major advances have resulted in substantial improvement in the prognosis of these patients. Consequently, skepticism regarding the value of aggressive treatment of adults with acute leukemia is no longer justified. The first major advance was the discovery of the new antileukemic agents, cytarabine (arabinosyl cytosine) and the anthracycline antibiotics. The second major advance was the introduction of combination chemotherapy.
Initial Evaluation of Cytarabine
The Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) initiated studies with cytarabine in 1966. The first study evaluated the efficacy of
Bodey GP, Coltman CA, Hewlett JS, Freireich EJ. Progress in the Treatment of Adults With Acute Leukemia: Review of Regimens Containing Cytarabine Studied by the Southwest Oncology Group. Arch Intern Med. 1976;136(12):1383–1388. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.1976.03630120035013
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