Acute promyelocytic leukemia is the first malignant disease highly curable with targeted therapy directed at a unique molecular abnormality. The characteristic bleeding diathesis is the most notorious manifestation of the disease, which historically has accounted for a high mortality rate during induction. Acute promyelocytic leukemia is one of the few hematologic diseases that must be recognized under the microscope by the practicing hematologist because early institution of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) at the first suspicion of the disease before confirmation of the diagnosis and aggressive blood product support are critical to reduce early mortality. ATRA plus anthracycline-based chemotherapy for induction and consolidation followed by maintenance ATRA with low-dose chemotherapy is currently the standard of care. However, the combination of ATRA and arsenic trioxide, with minimal chemotherapy to control leukocytosis, is very effective therapy for newly diagnosed patients. This combination may replace conventional approaches for most, if not all, patients in the very near future. Acute promyelocytic leukemia should be considered in any patient with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia because the treatment is urgent and different from all other subtypes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology