Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) treatment has come a long way in the last two decades, producing increases in tumor control to the point of generating sizeable numbers of patients with undetectable minimal residual disease and creating overall survival benefits in randomized comparisons. Most of this has been achieved by limited-term treatment approaches including chemotherapeutic and immune-therapeutic drugs. More recently, novel therapies targeting signaling pathways essential for the survival of the neoplastic clones have opened avenues that provide disease control in long-term treatment designs, mostly without producing deep remissions. In this disease, where current treatments are largely unable to effect a cure, prolonged therapy designs using maintenance approaches are explored and 5 randomized studies of maintenance have recently been published. This review shall summarize available results from a systematic literature review in a clinical context and outline basic biology principles that should be heeded in this regard.
Keywords: Anti-CD20 antibodies; Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; Kinase-inhibitors; Lenalidomide; Long-term treatment; Maintenance.
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