Veterans with chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL) have a markedly increased rate of second malignancy, which is the most common cause of death

Mouhammed J Kyasa, Linda Hazlett, Rudolph S Parrish, Steven A Schichman, Clive S Zent
Leukemia & Lymphoma 2004, 45 (3): 507-13
Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL) have an increased incidence of high-grade lymphoid malignancy. The risk of non-lymphoid second malignancy in this population is not well-defined to date. To test the hypothesis that patients with CLL/SLL have an increased risk of second malignancy, we studied the rate of second malignancy in 132 CLL/SLL patients and compared it to the rate of malignancy (excluding non-melanomatous skin cancer) in the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System population of approximately 38,000 veterans over a period of 11.5 years. The rate of second malignancy, diagnosed concomitantly or after CLL/SLL, and the age-adjusted rate of malignancy calculated from tumor registry reports and demographic data, were used to calculate a Standardized Morbidity Ratio (SMR) with 95% confidence interval (CI). Twenty-one (16%) of the CLL/SLL patients had second malignancies (19 non-lymphoid, 1 Richter's transformation and 1 Hodgkin's disease), which were fatal in 15 (71%) patients. The SMR for the CLL/SLL population was 2.97 (95% CI 1.84-4.55) for second malignancy and 2.69 (95% CI 1.62-4.21) for non-lymphoid second malignancy. This study of a well-defined CLL/SLL population shows a significantly increased risk of second malignancy, which was the primary cause of death for 9% of all CLL/SLL patients (34% of all patient deaths).

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