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Olga Frankfurt and Martin S. Tallman

The outcome of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) has improved dramatically during the past 40 years. Insights into the genetic and biologic mechanisms of APL lead to the development of specific and effective therapeutic strategies. This article discusses the therapeutic interventions that transformed APL from one of the most lethal leukemias to one that is highly curable.

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Olga Frankfurt and Martin S. Tallman

The role of myeloid growth factors, such as granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, in the management of acute myeloid and acute lymphoblastic leukemias has been evaluated extensively in multiple clinical trials. Growth factors have been given before, concurrently, or sequentially with chemotherapy with the goal of reducing the duration of neutropenia and consequently the incidence and severity of infections, and improving the rate of remissions and overall survival. They also have been studied as chemotherapy-sensitizing agents in an effort to recruit dormant myeloid stem cells into the sensitive phase of the cycle. Additionally, growth factors, shown to stimulate proliferation and differentiation of leukemia cells in vitro, were evaluated as monotherapy in patients with acute leukemia. Most studies show modest improvement in the duration of the neutropenia, which does not consistently correlate with the severity of infection, rate or duration of remissions, or disease-free and overall survival. Attempts to enhance the chemosensitivity of the leukemic cells and decrease drug resistance failed to improve the rate of remission and survival in several large series. However, more recent reports suggested an improved outcome in younger patients with acute myeloid leukemia with normal karyotype. Several anecdotal case reports have shown that growth factor monotherapy can induce a complete remission in patients with acute leukemia. Data from the published clinical trials do not seem to support emergence of drug-resistant leukemia, worsening toxicity, and bone marrow failure with growth factor administration.

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Demetrios N. Kyriacou, Borko Jovanovic and Olga Frankfurt

Guidelines for the treatment of febrile neutropenia (FN) universally recommend the prompt initiation (<60 minutes) of antibiotic therapy for patients with this complication presenting to medical settings. Unfortunately, administration delays exist in emergency departments where patients with FN frequently seek care. Future guidelines should be based on investigations that clearly indicate the effectiveness of rapid antibiotic therapy. If definitive investigations identify an optimal time period for the initial administration of antibiotics for patients with FN, administrative efforts will be developed to improve the emergency department care of these critically ill patients with cancer.

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Peter L. Greenberg, Eyal Attar, John M. Bennett, Clara D. Bloomfield, Uma Borate, Carlos M. De Castro, H. Joachim Deeg, Olga Frankfurt, Karin Gaensler, Guillermo Garcia-Manero, Steven D. Gore, David Head, Rami Komrokji, Lori J. Maness, Michael Millenson, Margaret R. O’Donnell, Paul J. Shami, Brady L. Stein, Richard M. Stone, James E. Thompson, Peter Westervelt, Benton Wheeler, Dorothy A. Shead and Maoko Naganuma

The myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) represent a heterogeneous group of clonal hematopoietic disorders characterized by cytopenias, dysplasia in one or more myeloid lineages, and the potential for development of acute myeloid leukemia. These disorders primarily affect older adults. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for MDS provide recommendations on the diagnostic evaluation and classification of MDS, risk evaluation according to established prognostic assessment tools (including the new revised International Prognostic Scoring System), treatment options according to risk categories, and management of related anemia.

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Joseph C. Alvarnas, Patrick A. Brown, Patricia Aoun, Karen Kuhn Ballen, Naresh Bellam, William Blum, Michael W. Boyer, Hetty E. Carraway, Peter F. Coccia, Steven E. Coutre, Jennifer Cultrera, Lloyd E. Damon, Daniel J. DeAngelo, Dan Douer, Haydar Frangoul, Olga Frankfurt, Salil Goorha, Michael M. Millenson, Susan O'Brien, Stephen H. Petersdorf, Arati V. Rao, Stephanie Terezakis, Geoffrey Uy, Meir Wetzler, Andrew D. Zelenetz, Maoko Naganuma and Kristina M. Gregory

The inaugural NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) were developed as a result of meetings convened by a multi-disciplinary panel of experts in 2011. These NCCN Guidelines provide recommendations on the diagnostic evaluation and workup for ALL, risk assessment, risk-stratified treatment approaches based on the Philadelphia chromosome status and age (adults vs. adolescents/young adults), assessment of minimal residual disease, and supportive care considerations. It is recommended that patients be treated at specialized centers with expertise in the management of ALL.

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Joseph C. Alvarnas, Patrick A. Brown, Patricia Aoun, Karen Kuhn Ballen, Stefan K. Barta, Uma Borate, Michael W. Boyer, Patrick W. Burke, Ryan Cassaday, Januario E. Castro, Peter F. Coccia, Steven E. Coutre, Lloyd E. Damon, Daniel J. DeAngelo, Dan Douer, Olga Frankfurt, John P. Greer, Robert A. Johnson, Hagop M. Kantarjian, Rebecca B. Klisovic, Gary Kupfer, Mark Litzow, Arthur Liu, Arati V. Rao, Bijal Shah, Geoffrey L. Uy, Eunice S. Wang, Andrew D. Zelenetz, Kristina Gregory and Courtney Smith

Treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) continues to advance, as evidenced by the improved risk stratification of patients and development of newer treatment options. Identification of ALL subtypes based on immunophenotyping and cytogenetic and molecular markers has resulted in the inclusion of Philadelphia-like ALL and early T-cell precursor ALL as subtypes that affect prognosis. Identification of Ikaros mutations has also emerged as a prognostic factor. In addition to improved prognostication, treatment options for patients with ALL have expanded, particularly with regard to relapsed/refractory ALL. Continued development of second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors and the emergence of immunotherapy, including blinatumomab and chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, have improved survival. Furthermore, incorporation of minimal residual disease (MRD) monitoring has shown insight into patient outcomes and may lead to treatment modification or alternative treatment strategies in select populations. This excerpt focuses on the sections of the ALL guidelines specific to clinical presentation and diagnosis, treatment of relapsed/refractory ALL, and incorporation of MRD monitoring. To view the most recent complete version of these guidelines, visit NCCN.org.

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Peter L. Greenberg, Richard M. Stone, Rafael Bejar, John M. Bennett, Clara D. Bloomfield, Uma Borate, Carlos M. De Castro, H. Joachim Deeg, Amy E. DeZern, Amir T. Fathi, Olga Frankfurt, Karin Gaensler, Guillermo Garcia-Manero, Elizabeth A. Griffiths, David Head, Virginia Klimek, Rami Komrokji, Lisa A. Kujawski, Lori J. Maness, Margaret R. O’Donnell, Daniel A. Pollyea, Bart Scott, Paul J. Shami, Brady L. Stein, Peter Westervelt, Benton Wheeler, Dorothy A. Shead and Courtney Smith

The NCCN Guidelines for Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) comprise a heterogeneous group of myeloid disorders with a highly variable disease course that depends largely on risk factors. Risk evaluation is therefore a critical component of decision-making in the treatment of MDS. The development of newer treatments and the refinement of current treatment modalities are designed to improve patient outcomes and reduce side effects. These NCCN Guidelines Insights focus on the recent updates to the guidelines, which include the incorporation of a revised prognostic scoring system, addition of molecular abnormalities associated with MDS, and refinement of treatment options involving a discussion of cost of care.

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Patrick A. Brown, Bijal Shah, Amir Fathi, Matthew Wieduwilt, Anjali Advani, Patricia Aoun, Stefan K. Barta, Michael W. Boyer, Teresa Bryan, Patrick W. Burke, Ryan Cassaday, Peter F. Coccia, Steven E. Coutre, Lloyd E. Damon, Daniel J. DeAngelo, Olga Frankfurt, John P. Greer, Hagop M. Kantarjian, Rebecca B. Klisovic, Gary Kupfer, Mark Litzow, Arthur Liu, Ryan Mattison, Jae Park, Jeffrey Rubnitz, Ayman Saad, Geoffrey L. Uy, Eunice S. Wang, Kristina M. Gregory and Ndiya Ogba

The prognosis for patients with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has improved with the use of more intensive chemotherapy regimens, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, targeted agents, and allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. However, the management of relapsed or refractory (R/R) ALL remains challenging and prognosis is poor. The NCCN Guidelines for ALL provide recommendations on standard treatment approaches based on current evidence. These NCCN Guidelines Insights summarize treatment recommendations for R/R ALL and highlight important updates, and provide a summary of the panel's discussion and underlying data supporting the most recent recommendations for R/R ALL management.

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Peter L. Greenberg, Richard M. Stone, Aref Al-Kali, Stefan K. Barta, Rafael Bejar, John M. Bennett, Hetty Carraway, Carlos M. De Castro, H. Joachim Deeg, Amy E. DeZern, Amir T. Fathi, Olga Frankfurt, Karin Gaensler, Guillermo Garcia-Manero, Elizabeth A. Griffiths, David Head, Ruth Horsfall, Robert A. Johnson, Mark Juckett, Virginia M. Klimek, Rami Komrokji, Lisa A. Kujawski, Lori J. Maness, Margaret R. O'Donnell, Daniel A. Pollyea, Paul J. Shami, Brady L. Stein, Alison R. Walker, Peter Westervelt, Amer Zeidan, Dorothy A. Shead and Courtney Smith

The myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) comprise a heterogenous group of myeloid disorders with a highly variable disease course. Diagnostic criteria to better stratify patients with MDS continue to evolve, based on morphology, cytogenetics, and the presence of cytopenias. More accurate classification of patients will allow for better treatment guidance. Treatment encompasses supportive care, treatment of anemia, low-intensity therapy, and high-intensity therapy. This portion of the guidelines focuses on diagnostic classification, molecular abnormalities, therapeutic options, and recommended treatment approaches.