Erba says ATRA, which comes in a pill, can cause headaches and a rash. Arsenic trioxide is given intravenously but is usually very well tolerated, and the main side effects of the chemotherapy (daunorubicin plus cytarabine) are hair loss, some nausea, mouth sores, diarrhea and the risk of infection and needing blood transfusion.
Even though APL is a potentially very deadly cancer, patients do have good treatment options, which is why this coach's prognosis so favorable. In the future, APL patients may be able to skip the chemo entirely and just be treated with ATRA and the arsenic, if current clinical trials pan out. Those study results may be coming in the next few months.