Guidelines for clinical protocols for chronic lymphocytic leukemia: recommendations of the National Cancer Institute-sponsored working group

Am J Hematol. 1988 Nov;29(3):152-63. doi: 10.1002/ajh.2830290307.


The National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) Working Group was convened to develop a set of standardized eligibility, response, and toxicity criteria for clinical trials. We recognized the previous efforts in 1967 (published again in 1973 as the report of the Chronic Leukemia-Myeloma Task Force [1] and 1978 of Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) [2]). We have used these reports for guidance during the current effort. Several noteworthy developments in the past few years have made it necessary to modify the previous guidelines. First, the diagnostic criteria for CLL and its clinical staging have been developed and well defined. Second, although staging systems facilitated entry of comparable and relatively homogeneous groups of patients in clinical trials, the definitions of response (CR) and partial response (PR) were not uniformly adopted from the previous guidelines in the clinical trials (Tables IA, IB); therefore, comparisons of results obtained in different studies became difficult. Third, there has been an improvement in our understanding of the immunology and biology of CLL. Finally, we are witnessing the emergence of several chemotherapy agents that promise impressive activity in CLL (e.g., 2'-deoxycoformycin [3], fludarabine monophosphate [4, 5]), and thereby offer the potential for improving survival time in this disease. To best identify regimens worthy of continued pursuit in large comparative trials, standardized guidelines for evaluation are essential. A number of laboratory investigations are also presented for which scientific interest is high yet relevance remains to be determined; thus, they are presented as companion studies to the clinical trials. This mechanism allows for flexibility in the testing of these questions and for additional ideas in the future without requiring modification of an entire treatment protocol. The following guidelines were developed to be used as a form of standardization for clinical trials, incorporating current technologies, yet remaining relevant to the general hematology/oncology community. Based on the membership of the Working Group, it is expected that these guidelines will serve as the criteria for most clinical trials in the near future.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / standards
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / standards*
  • Drug Evaluation / standards
  • Eligibility Determination / standards
  • Health Planning Guidelines*
  • Health Planning*
  • Humans
  • Infections / etiology
  • Leukemia, B-Cell / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, B-Cell / drug therapy
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / blood
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • United States


  • Antineoplastic Agents