Results Summary

What was the research about?

Hematopoietic cell transplant, also called HCT, bone marrow transplant, or stem cell transplant, is a type of cancer treatment. HCT replaces damaged cells after chemotherapy. Doctors can use HCT to treat acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, which is a type of blood cancer. Doctors also use other types of treatments for AML, such as more chemotherapy or supportive care.

In this study, the research team looked at factors that made patients less likely to have HCT. The team also compared how HCT or other treatments affected patients’

  • Survival after one year
  • Quality of life
  • Depression
  • Ability to do daily activities, such as bathing or dressing
  • Frailty, or the risk of a major drop in health and function for older adults

What were the results?

Patients were less likely to get treated with HCT if they

  • Had low risk for relapse based on genetic analysis of their cancer
  • Started treatment with less intensive chemotherapy
  • Were older than 69
  • Were less able to do everyday tasks
  • Had cancer come back after remission

Patients who had HCT lived longer than those who didn’t have HCT. But when the research team took into account factors like age and other health problems, patients who did and didn’t have HCT were just as likely to survive after one year. Patients’ quality of life, depression, and ability to do daily activities didn’t differ between the two groups.

Patients in the two groups differed in how their frailty levels changed. At the end of a year, patients who didn’t have HCT were less frail than when they started the study. For patients who did have HCT, their frailty levels didn’t change.

Who was in the study?

The study included 692 adults with AML, or a similar illness treated like AML. Of the patients, 86 percent were white, 6 percent were African American, 3 percent were Asian, and 4 percent were Hispanic. The average age was 59, and 43 percent were women. Patients received care at one of 13 treatment centers across the United States.

What did the research team do?

The research team enrolled patients newly diagnosed with AML before they started treatment. Patients took surveys about quality of life and health. They performed a walking test at the start of the study and again seven times over the next two years. The team also looked at patients’ health records.

People with AML, doctors, researchers, and people from health insurance companies and advocacy groups gave input on the study.

What were the limits of the study?

The research team took into account many factors about patient’s health. But other factors that they weren’t able to include could have affected the results. Some patients who could have taken part in the study chose not to. Results may have differed if more patients had taken part in the study.

Future research could assign patients by chance to have HCT or other types of treatment that take the patient’s specific health needs into account.

How can people use the results?

Patients and their doctors can use the results when considering treatment options for AML.

Final Research Report

View this project's final research report.

Journal Citations

Related Journal Citations

Peer-Review Summary

Peer review of PCORI-funded research helps make sure the report presents complete, balanced, and useful information about the research. It also assesses how the project addressed PCORI’s Methodology Standards. During peer review, experts read a draft report of the research and provide comments about the report. These experts may include a scientist focused on the research topic, a specialist in research methods, a patient or caregiver, and a healthcare professional. These reviewers cannot have conflicts of interest with the study.

The peer reviewers point out where the draft report may need revision. For example, they may suggest ways to improve descriptions of the conduct of the study or to clarify the connection between results and conclusions. Sometimes, awardees revise their draft reports twice or more to address all of the reviewers’ comments. 

Peer reviewers commented and the researchers made changes or provided responses. Those comments and responses included the following:

  • The reviewers expressed concern about engagement activities involving patient stakeholders the researchers recruited from among the study participants. The reviewers noted that these individuals tended to have short tenure as stakeholder participants because of their disease progression, which could indicate insufficient involvement in study decision-making by patient stakeholders. The researchers clarified that they had a large group of patient stakeholders who contributed to all aspects of study design and follow-up before the study began. The researchers explained that they recruited patient partners from among study participants to enhance the pool of stakeholders, but they were not the only patients or patient advocates among the stakeholders.
  • The reviewers asked the researchers to address whether trying to create better risk stratification models is the best way to improve clinical decision-making for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The researchers added an analysis of the predictive power of their model to the report, saying that the model was clearly better than relying on physician perception after an initial clinic visit in predicting patient survival. The researchers said their work provided very specific survival rates for different risk groups, which did not exist before this study and which physicians can use to counsel patients. The researchers also stated that risk models can help improve decision making about treatments. The researchers also noted that their model was the first AML prognosis model to incorporate comorbidities.
  • The reviewers asked for more justification for choosing one-year survival as the primary outcome and questioned whether it was the best outcome to consider especially for younger patients. The researchers agreed that younger patients may be interested in longer survival timepoints but said that their study largely focused on older patients and patients with comorbidities. The researchers also noted that when comparing more and less intensive therapies, they used two-year survival as an endpoint, and in one analysis they used all survival data accumulated over the more than four years since the study began.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Project Information

Mohamed Lotfy Sorror, MD, MS
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Tools and Information to Guide Choice of Therapies in Older & Medically Infirm Patients with AML

Key Dates

September 2013
September 2020

Study Registration Information


Has Results
Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
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Last updated: January 25, 2023