Limited clinical relevance of imaging techniques in the follow-up of patients with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia: results of a meta-analysis

Blood. 2011 Feb 10;117(6):1817-21. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-04-282228. Epub 2010 Dec 7.


The clinical value of imaging is well established for the follow-up of many lymphoid malignancies but not for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). A meta-analysis was performed with the dataset of 3 German CLL Study Group phase 3 trials (CLL4, CLL5, and CLL8) that included 1372 patients receiving first-line therapy for CLL. Response as well as progression during follow-up was reassessed according to the National Cancer Institute Working Group1996 criteria. A total of 481 events were counted as progressive disease during treatment or follow-up. Of these, 372 progressions (77%) were detected by clinical symptoms or blood counts. Computed tomography (CT) scans or ultrasound were relevant in 44 and 29 cases (9% and 6%), respectively. The decision for relapse treatment was determined by CT scan or ultrasound results in only 2 of 176 patients (1%). CT scan results had an impact on the prognosis of patients in complete remission only after the administration of conventional chemotherapy but not after chemoimmunotherapy. In conclusion, physical examination and blood count remain the methods of choice for staging and clinical follow-up of patients with CLL as recommended by the International Workshop on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 2008 guidelines. These trials are registered at as ISRCTN 75653261 and ISRCTN 36294212 and at as NCT00281918.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / blood
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / diagnostic imaging*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Remission Induction
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN36294212
  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN75653261