From the Journals

New chronic lymphocytic leukemia guidelines from the UK



Fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab are recommended as initial therapy for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia who do not have TP53 disruption, according to new guidelines from the British Society for Haematology.

The guidelines update the 2012 recommendations on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) to include “significant” developments in treatment. They were published in the British Journal of Haematology.

Anna H. Schuh, MD, of the department of oncology at the University of Oxford (England), and her coauthors noted that, while these guidelines apply to treatments available outside clinical trials, wherever possible patients with CLL should be treated within the clinical trial setting.

While recommending fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab as first-line therapy, the guideline authors acknowledged that the combination of bendamustine and rituximab is an acceptable alternative for patients who could not take the triple therapy because of comorbidities such as advanced age, renal impairment, or issues with marrow capacity.

Similarly, less-fit patients could also be considered for chlorambucil-obinutuzumab or chlorambucil-ofatumumab combinations.

All patients diagnosed with CLL should be tested for TP53 deletions and mutations before each line of therapy, the guideline committee recommended. TP53 disruption makes chemoimmunotherapy ineffective because of either a deletion of chromosome 17p or a mutation in the TP53 gene. However, there is compelling evidence for the efficacy of ibrutinib in these patients, or idelalisib and rituximab for those with cardiac disease or receiving vitamin K antagonists.

With respect to maintenance therapy, the guidelines noted that this was not routinely recommended in CLL as “it is unclear to what extent the progression-free survival benefit is offset by long-term toxicity.”

Patients who are refractory to chemoimmunotherapy, who have relapsed, or who cannot be retreated with chemoimmunotherapy should be treated with idelalisib with rituximab or ibrutinib monotherapy, the guidelines suggested.

“Deciding whether ibrutinib or idelalisib with rituximab is most appropriate for an individual patient depends on a range of factors, including toxicity profile and convenience of delivery,” the authors wrote. However, they noted that the value of adding bendamustine to either option was unclear as research had not shown significant, associated gains in median progression-free survival.

Allogeneic stem cell transplantation should be considered as a treatment option for patients who have either failed chemotherapy, have a TP53 disruption and have not responded to B-cell receptor signaling pathway inhibitors such as ibrutinib, or have a Richter transformation.

The guidelines also addressed the issue of autoimmune cytopenias, which occur in 5%-10% of patients with CLL and can actually precede the diagnosis of CLL in about 9% of cases.

In patients where autoimmune cytopenia is the dominant clinical feature, they should be treated with corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, or rituximab. However, for patients where the cytopenia is triggered by CLL therapy, the guidelines recommended halting treatment and beginning immunosuppression.

The guideline development was supported by the British Society for Haematology. The UK CLL Forum is a registered charity that receives funding from a number of pharmaceutical companies.

SOURCE: Schuh AH et al. Br J Haematol. 2018 Jul 15. doi: 10.1111/bjh.15460.

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