Mode of progression after first line treatment correlates with outcome of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

Am J Hematol. 2019 Sep;94(9):1002-1006. doi: 10.1002/ajh.25561. Epub 2019 Jul 8.


In CLL, progressive disease (PD) following remission after first line treatment can present with varying phenotypes. We hypothesized that the mode of PD correlates with clinical outcomes. Data from three phase III trials of the German CLL Study Group (GCLLSG) (CLL8, CLL10, CLL11) including a total of 2159 patients receiving first line (immuno)-chemotherapy (FCR, FC, CLB, CLB-R, CLB-Ob) were analyzed. Patients were categorized as "ALC" if PD was due to increasing absolute lymphocyte count, or as "Ly" if due to lymphadenopathy. A group of 241 patients progressed with ALC, and 727 progressed with Ly, including 329 who progressed on both modalities. In fit patients, median TTNT after PD in the Ly group was 12.3 months vs 17.0 months in the ALC group (HR 1.299 [1.036-1.628]; P = .024). Median OS after PD was 45.1 months in the Ly group and 42.4 months in the ALC group (HR=1.023 [0.753-1.389]; P = .885). For unfit patients, median TTNT in the Ly group was 11.7 months vs 21.4 months in the ALC group (HR 1.357 [1.051-1.753]; P = .019). Median OS was 42.8 months in the Ly group and not reached in the ALC group (HR 1.851 [1.280-2.677]; P = .001). Patients in the Ly group more frequently showed impairment of quality of life (QoL). This analysis demonstrates that patients with progressive lymphadenopathy have a significantly shorter TTNT, OS and less favorable QoL. Our findings might help physicians to better estimate the clinical course of a progressing CLL patient.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / blood
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / mortality*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Survival Rate