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Keywords:

  • alpha-interferon;
  • cladribine;
  • hairy cell leukemia;
  • pentostatin;
  • rituximab;
  • splenectomy

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Historically, the first treatment choices for hairy cell leukemia (HCL) were splenectomy and alpha-interferon. Recently, purine analogues (pentostatin and cladribine) changed radically the treatment modality, inducing complete and durable responses in the majority of patients.

METHODS:

The authors analyzed the outcome of different lines of therapy in 121 HCL patients followed in their institute from 1986 to 2008, with a median follow-up of 105 months. Patients were divided into subgroups according to the number of treatments; Group A included 121 patients who underwent a front-line therapy, Group B patients (n =53) were treated with 2 lines, Group C patients (n = 34) with 3 lines, Group D patients (n = 17) with 4 lines, and Group E patients (n = 8) with 5 lines.

RESULTS:

In Group A, 92 (77%) patients obtained a complete response (CR), 23 (18%) a partial response, and the remaining 6 (5%) a minor or no response; median duration of response was 2.7 years. In Group B, 53 relapsed patients achieved a second CR rate of 73.5%; median duration of response was 2.5 years. Group C contained 34 patients in a second relapse, with a CR rate after the third line of treatment of 70.5% (median duration of response, 2.2 years). In Group D, 11 (64.7%) patients obtained a CR (median duration of response, 1.6 years), and in Group E 4 (50%) of 8 patients achieved a CR (median duration of response, 1.3 years).

CONCLUSIONS:

This study confirms the high risk (>40% of all patients) of retreatment of HCL patients and the need to maximize primary response. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.