June 2018 was the 20th anniversary of the clinical use of the first tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), imatinib, for chronic myeloid leukemia. Since then, the change in prognosis for patients with this disease is one of the major success stories of modern cancer medicine. The dilemmas that face physicians and patients are no longer only those concerned with delaying inevitable progression to the terminal blastic phase or selecting the individuals most likely to benefit from allogeneic stem-cell transplantation; rather, they are now focused also on the choice of TKI, the management of comorbidities and adverse effects, strategies to improve quality of life, and the appropriateness of a trial of therapy discontinuation. Interestingly, with 4 TKIs approved for frontline use, the choice of initial therapy continues to cause controversy, a situation made more complicated by the tantalizing prospect of treatment-free remission. In this manuscript, we will explore the factors influencing this decision and try to provide a pragmatic and clinically applicable solution.
© 2018 by The American Society of Hematology. All rights reserved.