Plasma cell leukemia (PCL) is a rare, yet aggressive plasma cell (PC) neoplasm, variant of multiple myeloma (MM), characterized by high levels of PCs circulating in the peripheral blood. PCL can either originate de novo (primary PCL) or as a secondary leukemic transformation of MM (secondary PCL). Presenting signs and symptoms are similar to those seen in MM such as renal insufficiency, hypercalcemia, lytic bone lesions, anemia, and thrombocytopenia, but can also include hepatomegaly and splenomegaly. The diagnostic evaluation of a patient with suspected PCL should include a review of the peripheral blood smear, bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP) with immunofixation, and protein electrophoresis of an aliquot from a 24h urine collection (UPEP). The diagnosis is made when a monoclonal population of PCs is present in the peripheral blood with an absolute PC count exceeding 2000/μL and PC comprising 20% or more of the peripheral blood white cells. The prognosis of PCL is poor with a median survival of 7 to 11 months. Survival is even shorter (2 to 7 months) when PCL occurs in the context of refractory or relapsing MM. There have been no prospective randomized trials investigating the treatment of PCL. Recommendations are primarily based upon data from small retrospective series, case reports, and extrapolation of data from patients with MM. In general, patients are treated with induction therapy followed by hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) in those who are appropriate candidates for this approach. The best induction regimen for PCL is not known and there is great variability in clinical practice. Newer agents that are being incorporated into frontline and salvage therapy for MM have also demonstrated activity in PCL such as Immunomodulatory agents and the use of bortezomib with different combinations.
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