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Keywords:

  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia;
  • Racial Disparities;
  • African Americans;
  • Prognostic Factors;
  • Chemoimmunotherapy;
  • Survival

BACKGROUND

Little is known regarding racial disparities in characteristics and outcomes among patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

METHODS

The characteristics and outcomes of untreated African American (AA) patients with CLL (n = 84) were analyzed and compared with a reference nonblack (NB) patient population (n = 1571).

RESULTS

At the time of presentation, AA patients had lower median hemoglobin levels (12.9 g/dL vs 13.7 g/dL), higher β2 microglobulin levels (2.7 mg/dL vs 2.4 mg/dL), greater frequency of constitutional symptoms (27% vs 10%), unmutated immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable region (IGHV) mutation status (65% vs 47%), ζ-chain–associated protein kinase 70 (ZAP70) expression (58% vs 32%), and deletion of chromosome 17p or chromosome 11q (28% vs 17%; P ≤ 02 for each comparison). Fifty-one percent of AA patients and 39% of NB patients required first-line therapy and 91% and 88%, respectively, received chemoimmunotherapy. Overall response rates to treatment were 85% for AA patients and 94% for NB patients (P = .06); and the complete response rates were 56% and 58%, respectively (P = .87). The median survival of AA patients was shorter compared with that of NB patients (event-free survival: 36 months vs 61 months; P = .007; overall survival: 152 months vs not reached; P = .0001). AA race was an independent predictor of shorter event-free and overall survival in multivariable regression models.

CONCLUSIONS

The current results indicated that AA patients with CLL have more unfavorable prognostic characteristics and shorter survival compared with their NB counterparts. Cancer 2013;119:3177–3185. © 2013 American Cancer Society.