Pulmonary complications in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Cancer. 2003 Nov 1;98(9):1912-7. doi: 10.1002/cncr.11736.


Background: Although pulmonary complications account for significant morbidity and mortality in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), to the authors' knowledge there are sparse data available in published literature. The authors evaluated pulmonary complications in patients with CLL and identified prognostic variables that predict hospital mortality in these patients.

Methods: Clinical data were analyzed retrospectively from patients with CLL who required hospitalization for a respiratory illness at a tertiary care institution from January 1993 to December 2001. A logistic regression analysis with a backward elimination procedure was carried out to determine prognostic variables that predict hospital mortality.

Results: There were 110 patients who were admitted on 142 occasions with a pulmonary complication. The median age was 75 years (range, 43-97 years), and the male:female ratio was 1.7:1.0. Among 142 admissions, 68% were high risk according to the Rai criteria, 68% of patients admitted had received prior therapy for CLL, and 35% had received treatment within 3 months of admission. The most common pulmonary complications were pneumonias (75%), malignant pleural effusion/and or lung infiltrate due to CLL (9%), pulmonary leukostasis (4%), Richter transformation or nonsmall cell lung carcinoma (3%), and upper airway obstruction (2%). Forty-four of 110 patients (40%) died. In multivariate analysis, admission absolute neutrophil counts </= 0.5 x 10(9)/L (odds ratio, 4.6; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.3-16.6) and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels >/= 20 mg/dL (odds ratio, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.1-8.3) were correlated significantly with mortality.

Conclusions: Pneumonia was the major pulmonary complication in hospitalized patients with CLL. Severe neutropenia and high BUN levels were correlated significantly with increased mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / complications*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neutrophils
  • Prognosis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / complications*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies