Clinical characteristics and outcome of young chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients: a single institution study of 204 cases

F R Mauro, R Foa, D Giannarelli, I Cordone, S Crescenzi, E Pescarmona, R Sala, R Cerretti, F Mandelli
Blood 1999 July 15, 94 (2): 448-54
A retrospective analysis on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients </=55 years observed at a single institution was performed with the purpose of characterizing the clinical features and outcome of young CLL and of identifying patients with different prognostic features. Over the period from 1984 to 1994, 1,011 CLL patients (204 [20%] </=55 years of age and 807 [80%] >55 years of age) were observed. At diagnosis, younger and older patients displayed a similar distribution of clinical features, except for a significantly higher male/female ratio in younger patients (2.85 v 1. 29; P <.0001). Both groups showed an elevated rate of second primary cancers (8.3% v 10.7%), whereas the occurrence of Richter's syndrome was significantly higher in younger patients (5.9% v 1.2%; P <. 00001). Younger and older patients showed a similar overall median survival probability (10 years) but were characterized by a different distribution of causes of deaths: CLL unrelated deaths and second primary malignancies predominated in the older age group, whereas the direct effects of leukemia were prevalent in the younger age group. Although younger and older patients displayed a similar survival, the evaluation of the relative survival rates showed that the disease had a greater adverse effect on the expected survival probability of the younger population. Multivariate analysis showed that for young CLL patients only dynamic parameters, such as lymphocyte doubling time and other signs of active disease, were the independent factors that significantly influenced survival probability (P =.00001). A prolonged clinico-hematologic follow-up allowed us to identify two subsets of young CLL patients with a different prognostic outcome: a group of patients (40%) with long-lasting stable disease without treatment and an actuarial survival probability of 94% at 12 years from diagnosis and another group (60%) with progressive disease and a median survival probability of 5 years after therapy. For the latter patients, the therapeutic effect of innovative therapies with curative intents needs to be investigated in prospective, comparative clinical trials.

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