State-of-the-Art Treatment and Novel Agents in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Oncol Res Treat. 2016;39(1-2):25-32. doi: 10.1159/000443903. Epub 2016 Jan 22.


Chemoimmunotherapy is the established first-line treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who do not display the high-risk genetic features del(17p) and/or TP53 mutation: Physically fit patients without or with only mild comorbidities should receive fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and rituximab, while bendamustine and rituximab can be considered in fit elderly patients of over 65 years and in patients with a higher risk of infections. Patients with relevant coexisting conditions should receive chlorambucil with a CD20 antibody, preferably obinutuzumab. Patients with a del(17p) and/or TP53 mutation respond poorly to conventional chemo(immuno)therapies. However, the recently approved BTK and PI3K inhibitors ibrutinib and idelalisib have the best efficacy ever documented in patients with these high-risk genomic alterations and/or refractory CLL. The choice between ibrutinib and idelalisib should be based on the patients' comorbidities and concomitant medications since both agents have a distinct toxicity profile, although they are generally well tolerated in the majority of patients. For treatment of patients with a late relapse, chemoimmunotherapy instead of kinase inhibitors is still a reasonable approach, but has to be determined for every patient individually. Further targeted drugs and their combinations are currently being evaluated in clinical trials and have the potential to eradicate all residual CLL cells and thus lead to a cure of CLL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / diagnosis*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / therapy*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors