Background: Fluorescence in situ hybridization has improved the detection of genomic aberrations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. We used this method to identify chromosomal abnormalities in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and assessed their prognostic implications.
Methods: Mononuclear cells from the blood of 325 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia were analyzed by fluorescence in situ hybridization for deletions in chromosome bands 6q21, 11q22-23, 13q14, and 17p13; trisomy of bands 3q26, 8q24, and 12q13; and translocations involving band 14q32. Molecular cytogenetic data were correlated with clinical findings.
Results: Chromosomal aberrations were detected in 268 of 325 cases (82 percent). The most frequent changes were a deletion in 13q (55 percent), a deletion in 11q (18 percent), trisomy of 12q (16 percent), a deletion in 17p (7 percent), and a deletion in 6q (7 percent). Five categories were defined with a statistical model: 17p deletion, 11q deletion, 12q trisomy, normal karyotype, and 13q deletion as the sole abnormality; the median survival times for patients in these groups were 32, 79, 114, 111, and 133 months, respectively. Patients in the 17p- and 11q-deletion groups had more advanced disease than those in the other three groups. Patients with 17p deletions had the shortest median treatment-free interval (9 months), and those with 13q deletions had the longest (92 months). In multivariate analysis, the presence or absence of a 17p deletion, the presence or absence of an 11q deletion, age, Binet stage, the serum lactate dehydrogenase level, and the white-cell count gave significant prognostic information.
Conclusions: Genomic aberrations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia are important independent predictors of disease progression and survival. These findings have implications for the design of risk-adapted treatment strategies.