Michael Hallek, MD from the University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany discusses the debate around whether chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is curable. Prof Hallek argues that it is possible to cure CLL patients and points out that allogeneic stem cell transplants cure approximately 30-40% of patients. In terms of non-transplant therapies, there is evidence that long-term remission is achievable. Some patients who have received FCR (fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, rituximab) remain in remission after many years and can be categorized according to their IGHV mutation status, whereby IGHV-mutated patients have a good prognosis. Within the group of IGHV-mutated patients, patients with trisomy 12, 13q deletion and 11q deletion, benefit particularly highly from FCR chemoimmunotherapy and some might call this group of patients cured according to Prof Hallek. He further discusses the combination of venetoclax with antibodies as well as triplet combinations and minimal residual disease (MRD) negative remission, which has been observed in some patients treated with these newer therapies.
Recorded at the European Hematology Association (EHA) 2016 Annual Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark.