Purpose: Tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) discontinuation is an emerging goal in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) management and several studies have demonstrated the feasibility of safely stopping imatinib. A sustained deep molecular response on long-term TKI is critical prior to attempting treatment-free remission. Reproducible results from several studies reported recently, failed to identify robust and reproducible predictive factors for the selection of the best candidates for successful TKI cessation.
Patients and methods: We conducted a prospective national phase II study evaluating the cessation of imatinib after at least 2 years of MR4.5 obtained on imatinib first-line in patients with chronic phase CML.
Results: A total of 218 patients with de novo chronic phase CML were involved in the study. The median follow-up after imatinib cessation was 23.5 (1-64) months, 2 patients died from unrelated causes, and 107 experienced a confirmed increase in BCR-ABL1 levels defined as molecular recurrence. The molecular recurrence-free survival was 52% [95% confidence interval (CI), 45%-59%] at 6 months, and 50% (95% CI, 43%-57%) at 24 months. Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) was used to evaluate more accurately low levels of BCR-ABL1 in 175 of 218 patients at imatinib cessation. To apply positive BCR-ABL1/ABL1 ratios on the international scale (IS), a conversion factor was calculated for ddPCR and the significant cut-off point was established at 0.0023%IS. In a multivariate analysis, the duration of TKI (≥74.8 months) and ddPCR (≥0.0023%IS) were the two identified predictive factors of molecular recurrence, with P = 0.0366 (HR, 0.635; 95% CI, 0.415-0.972] and P = 0.008 (HR, 0.556; 95% CI, 0.360-0.858), respectively.
Conclusions: We conclude that the duration of TKI and residual leukemic cell load as determined by ddPCR are key factors for predicting successful treatment-free remission for patients with de novo chronic phase CML.See related commentary by Yan et al., p. 6561.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.
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