Objectives: To evaluate the frequency and the course of complete cytogenetic responses in interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha)-treated patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Design: Two prospective trials in consecutive patients.
Setting: A major tertiary cancer center.
Patients: Ninety-six consecutive patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia with disease duration of less than 1 year.
Intervention: Patients received partially pure IFN-alpha intramuscularly, from 3 to 9 million U/d (51 patients) or recombinant IFN-alpha 2a (Roferon, Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc., Nutley, New Jersey), 5 million U/m2 body surface area daily (45 patients).
Measurements: Hematologic and cytogenetic tests were administered.
Main results: Seventy of the patients (73%) achieved hematologic remission (95% CI, 63% to 81%), and 18 (19%) had complete suppression of the Philadelphia chromosome on at least one cytogenetic test. A complete cytogenetic response was induced in 7 of 51 or 14% (CI, 6% to 26%) of the patients treated with the partially pure IFN-alpha and in 11 of 45 or 24% (CI, 13% to 40%) of the patients treated with recombinant IFN-alpha 2a. The difference in complete cytogenetic response between the two groups was 10.7% (CI, - 5% to 26%; P greater than 0.2). Eleven patients had durable, ongoing, complete cytogenetic responses from 6 to more than 45 months (median, more than 30 months).
Conclusion: This study was the first to show sustained, complete cytogenetic responses in a subset of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia treated with single-agent therapy. The nature of this remission, that is, whether it depends on continuous therapy, requires further study.