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Review
, 26 (8), 860-5

Hairy Cell Leukemia: Current Concepts

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Review

Hairy Cell Leukemia: Current Concepts

Timothy Cannon et al. Cancer Invest.

Abstract

Hairy cell Leukemia (HCL) is a chronic lymphoproliferative disorder that was characterized in the late 1950s. HCL is defined, according to the WHO classification, as a mature (peripheral) B-cell neoplasm (1). HCL accounts for between 2-3% of all leukemia cases, with about 600 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year (1). HCL occurs more commonly in males, with an overall male to female ratio of approximately 4:1. The median age of onset is 52 years. This disease is seen more commonly in Caucasians and appears to be especially frequent in Ashkenazi Jewish males, with rare occurrence in persons of Asian and African descents (1). Hairy cells are distinct, clonal B cells arrested at a late stage of maturation. They are small B lymphoid cells that possess oval nuclei and abundant cytoplasm with characteristic micro-filamentous ("hairy") projections. They strongly express CD103, CD22, and CD11c (2). These cells typically infiltrate the bone marrow, the spleen, and to a lesser extent the liver, lymph nodes, and skin. Many patients present with splenomegaly and pancytopenia. Other clinical manifestations include recurrent opportunistic infections and vasculitis. Historically, HCL was considered uniformly fatal (2). However, recent treatment advances, using purine analogues such as Cladribine and Pentostatin, led to a significant improvement in prognosis with achievement of high response rates and durable remissions (2).

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