Practical Management of Richter Transformation in 2023 and Beyond

Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2023 Jan:43:e390804. doi: 10.1200/EDBK_390804.


While the past decade has witnessed unprecedented progress for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), outcomes for patients with Richter transformation (RT) remain dismal. Multiagent chemoimmunotherapy regimens, such as rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone, are commonly used, although outcomes are far poorer than observed with the same regimens used in de novo diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The revolutionary targeted therapies approved for CLL, such as inhibitors of Bruton tyrosine kinase and B-cell leukemia/lymphoma-2, have limited activity in RT as monotherapy, and initial promising activity of checkpoint blockade antibodies was also eventually found to be ineffective as monotherapy for most patients. Over the past few years, as outcomes for patients with CLL improved, there has been a growing focus of the research community on improving our biological understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of RT and on translating these new insights into rational combination strategies that are poised to improve therapeutic outcomes. Here, we present a brief overview of the biology and diagnosis of RT, as well as prognostic considerations, before providing a summary of the data supporting various therapies that have been recently studied in RT. We then turn our attention to the horizon and describe several of the promising novel approaches under investigation to treat this challenging disease.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell* / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse* / drug therapy
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use


  • Rituximab
  • Cyclophosphamide