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Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Treatment (Professional) (cont.)

Relapsing Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Overt failure is defined as a loss of hematologic remission or progression to accelerated-phase or blast-crisis phase chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) as previously defined. Although presumed to represent relapsing disease, a rising quantitative reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction signal is a controversial finding. Prospective studies comparing resumption of therapy versus continued observation have not been performed. Similarly, there has been no prospective validation for failure to achieve certain benchmarks during initial therapy. For initial use of imatinib mesylate, the designation of relative failure has been proposed for lack of complete hematologic remission by 3 months, no cytogenetic response by 6 months, or no major cytogenetic response by 12 months.[1,2] Nilotinib and dasatinib induce such high rates of complete cytogenetic responses (93% of 155 patients in one series) and major molecular responses (87%) within several months that new benchmarks are required for responsiveness.[3] These investigators propose that a complete cytogenetic response by 3 months should define an optimal response.[3]

In case of treatment failure or suboptimal response, patients should undergo BCR/ABL kinase domain mutation analysis to help guide therapy with the newer tyrosine kinase inhibitors or with allogeneic transplantation.[4,5] Mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain can confer resistance to imatinib mesylate; alternative inhibitors such as dasatinib, nilotinib, or bosutinib, higher doses of imatinib mesylate, and allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) have been studied in this setting.[6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18] Clinical trial participation should help establish the optimal sequence of these options.

Infusions of buffy-coat leukocytes or isolated T cells obtained by pheresis from the bone marrow transplant donor have induced long-term remissions in more than 50% of patients who relapse following allogeneic transplant.[19,20] The efficacy of this treatment is thought to be the result of an immunologic graft-versus-leukemia effect. This treatment is most effective for patients whose relapse is detectable only by cytogenetics or molecular studies and is associated with significant graft-versus-host disease. After relapse from allogeneic SCT, some patients will also respond to interferon alpha.[21] Most patients will respond to imatinib mesylate with durable (>1 year) cytogenetic and molecular responses. (These patients had not previously received imatinib.)[22,23,24]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with relapsing chronic myelogenous leukemia. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Baccarani M, Saglio G, Goldman J, et al.: Evolving concepts in the management of chronic myeloid leukemia: recommendations from an expert panel on behalf of the European LeukemiaNet. Blood 108 (6): 1809-20, 2006.
  2. Marin D, Milojkovic D, Olavarria E, et al.: European LeukemiaNet criteria for failure or suboptimal response reliably identify patients with CML in early chronic phase treated with imatinib whose eventual outcome is poor. Blood 112 (12): 4437-44, 2008.
  3. Jabbour E, Kantarjian HM, O'Brien S, et al.: Front-line therapy with second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors in patients with early chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia: what is the optimal response? J Clin Oncol 29 (32): 4260-5, 2011.
  4. Soverini S, Hochhaus A, Nicolini FE, et al.: BCR-ABL kinase domain mutation analysis in chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors: recommendations from an expert panel on behalf of European LeukemiaNet. Blood 118 (5): 1208-15, 2011.
  5. Parker WT, Lawrence RM, Ho M, et al.: Sensitive detection of BCR-ABL1 mutations in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia after imatinib resistance is predictive of outcome during subsequent therapy. J Clin Oncol 29 (32): 4250-9, 2011.
  6. Jabbour E, Cortes J, Kantarjian HM, et al.: Allogeneic stem cell transplantation for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia after Bcr-Abl kinase mutation-related imatinib failure. Blood 108 (4): 1421-3, 2006.
  7. le Coutre P, Ottmann OG, Giles F, et al.: Nilotinib (formerly AMN107), a highly selective BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is active in patients with imatinib-resistant or -intolerant accelerated-phase chronic myelogenous leukemia. Blood 111 (4): 1834-9, 2008.
  8. Hochhaus A, Baccarani M, Deininger M, et al.: Dasatinib induces durable cytogenetic responses in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia in chronic phase with resistance or intolerance to imatinib. Leukemia 22 (6): 1200-6, 2008.
  9. Guilhot F, Apperley J, Kim DW, et al.: Dasatinib induces significant hematologic and cytogenetic responses in patients with imatinib-resistant or -intolerant chronic myeloid leukemia in accelerated phase. Blood 109 (10): 4143-50, 2007.
  10. Kantarjian HM, Giles F, Gattermann N, et al.: Nilotinib (formerly AMN107), a highly selective BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is effective in patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia in chronic phase following imatinib resistance and intolerance. Blood 110 (10): 3540-6, 2007.
  11. Kantarjian H, Cortes J, Kim DW, et al.: Phase 3 study of dasatinib 140 mg once daily versus 70 mg twice daily in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in accelerated phase resistant or intolerant to imatinib: 15-month median follow-up. Blood 113 (25): 6322-9, 2009.
  12. Jabbour E, Jones D, Kantarjian HM, et al.: Long-term outcome of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia treated with second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors after imatinib failure is predicted by the in vitro sensitivity of BCR-ABL kinase domain mutations. Blood 114 (10): 2037-43, 2009.
  13. Apperley JF, Cortes JE, Kim DW, et al.: Dasatinib in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia in accelerated phase after imatinib failure: the START a trial. J Clin Oncol 27 (21): 3472-9, 2009.
  14. Hughes T, Saglio G, Branford S, et al.: Impact of baseline BCR-ABL mutations on response to nilotinib in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase. J Clin Oncol 27 (25): 4204-10, 2009.
  15. Kantarjian H, Pasquini R, Lévy V, et al.: Dasatinib or high-dose imatinib for chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia resistant to imatinib at a dose of 400 to 600 milligrams daily: two-year follow-up of a randomized phase 2 study (START-R). Cancer 115 (18): 4136-47, 2009.
  16. Saglio G, Hochhaus A, Goh YT, et al.: Dasatinib in imatinib-resistant or imatinib-intolerant chronic myeloid leukemia in blast phase after 2 years of follow-up in a phase 3 study: efficacy and tolerability of 140 milligrams once daily and 70 milligrams twice daily. Cancer 116 (16): 3852-61, 2010.
  17. Cortes JE, Kantarjian HM, Brümmendorf TH, et al.: Safety and efficacy of bosutinib (SKI-606) in chronic phase Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia patients with resistance or intolerance to imatinib. Blood 118 (17): 4567-76, 2011.
  18. Khoury HJ, Cortes JE, Kantarjian HM, et al.: Bosutinib is active in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia after imatinib and dasatinib and/or nilotinib therapy failure. Blood 119 (15): 3403-12, 2012.
  19. Kaeda J, O'Shea D, Szydlo RM, et al.: Serial measurement of BCR-ABL transcripts in the peripheral blood after allogeneic stem cell transplantation for chronic myeloid leukemia: an attempt to define patients who may not require further therapy. Blood 107 (10): 4171-6, 2006.
  20. Dazzi F, Szydlo RM, Craddock C, et al.: Comparison of single-dose and escalating-dose regimens of donor lymphocyte infusion for relapse after allografting for chronic myeloid leukemia. Blood 95 (1): 67-71, 2000.
  21. Pigneux A, Devergie A, Pochitaloff M, et al.: Recombinant alpha-interferon as treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia in relapse after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation: a report from the Société Franšaise de Greffe de Moelle. Bone Marrow Transplant 15 (6): 819-24, 1995.
  22. Olavarria E, Ottmann OG, Deininger M, et al.: Response to imatinib in patients who relapse after allogeneic stem cell transplantation for chronic myeloid leukemia. Leukemia 17 (9): 1707-12, 2003.
  23. Kantarjian HM, O'Brien S, Cortes JE, et al.: Imatinib mesylate therapy for relapse after allogeneic stem cell transplantation for chronic myelogenous leukemia. Blood 100 (5): 1590-5, 2002.
  24. Hess G, Bunjes D, Siegert W, et al.: Sustained complete molecular remissions after treatment with imatinib-mesylate in patients with failure after allogeneic stem cell transplantation for chronic myelogenous leukemia: results of a prospective phase II open-label multicenter study. J Clin Oncol 23 (30): 7583-93, 2005.
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