Groundbreaking Study Reveals Rare Risk in Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Treatment
A recent study conducted by Italian researchers sheds light on a rare but potential risk associated with the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). The study, published in the ‘American Journal of Hematology’, was led by Carlo Gambacorti Passerini, a professor of Hematology at the Milan-Bicocca University and director of the Hematology Unit of the Irccs San Gerardo dei Tintori Foundation in Monza.
CML is a form of leukemia that has seen significant advancements in treatment with the introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors. These drugs have transformed the life expectancy for CML patients, allowing them to lead longer, healthier lives. As a result, the number of individuals living with CML has been steadily increasing and is currently estimated to be around 2 million in developed countries.
The standard practice for CML patients who have shown an optimal response to therapy, defined as at least 4 years of treatment and minimal residual leukemia cells (less than one in 10 thousand), is to consider suspending treatment. While it is known that approximately half of these patients may need to resume treatment due to a relapse, the overall practice of suspension has been considered safe, as restarting treatment usually leads to another remission.
However, there have been documented cases where the suspension of therapy was linked to disease progression, evolution into acute leukemia, and even death. In order to quantify the risk associated with treatment suspension, the researchers from Bicocca and San Gerardo conducted a study involving 906 CML patients from Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Canadian centers.
Over a median monitoring time of more than 5 years and 5 thousand person-years of follow-up, only one case of disease progression was recorded. Surprisingly, this occurred in a patient who had not suspended therapy. This equates to a frequency of approximately one case in a thousand, highlighting the rarity of this event.
The findings emphasize the importance of regular intake of therapy before considering suspension and optimal monitoring by healthcare professionals following the decision to suspend treatment. These results provide valuable insights and guidance for both patients and doctors managing CML.
The timing of the study’s release is significant, as it coincides with World Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Day. It serves as a reminder of the progress made in treating this life-threatening disease and the ongoing efforts to improve patient outcomes.