The treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) has been a model for cancer therapy development. Though most patients with CML have a normal quality and duration of life with TKI therapy, some patients progress to accelerated phase (AP) and blast phase (BP), both of which have a relatively poor prognosis. The rates of progression have reduced significantly from over >20% in the pre-TKI era to <5% now, largely due to refinements in CML therapy and response monitoring. Significant insights have been gained into the mechanisms of disease transformation including the role of additional cytogenetic abnormalities, somatic mutations, and other genomic alterations present at diagnosis or evolving on therapy. This knowledge is helping to optimize TKI therapy, improve prognostication and inform the development of novel combination regimens in these patients. While patients with de novo CML-AP have outcomes almost similar to CML in chronic phase (CP), those transformed from previously treated CML-CP should receive second- or third- generation TKIs and be strongly considered for allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT). Similarly, patients with transformed CML-BP have particularly dismal outcomes with a median survival usually less than one year. Combination regimens with a potent TKI such as ponatinib followed by allo-SCT can achieve long-term survival in some transformed BP patients. Regimens including venetoclax in myeloid BP or inotuzumab ozogamicin or blinatumomab in lymphoid BP might lead to deeper and longer responses, facilitating potentially curative allo-SCT for patients with CML-BP once CP is achieved. Newer agents and novel combination therapies are further expanding the therapeutic arsenal in advanced phase CML.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.