Conference Coverage

Optimizing use of TKIs in chronic leukemia



DUBROVNIK, CROATIA – Long-term efficacy and toxicity should inform decisions about tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), according to one expert.

Dr. Hagop M. Kantarjian is a professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston

Dr. Hagop M. Kantarjian

Studies have indicated that long-term survival rates are similar whether CML patients receive frontline treatment with imatinib or second-generation TKIs. But the newer TKIs pose a higher risk of uncommon toxicities, Hagop M. Kantarjian, MD, said during the keynote presentation at Leukemia and Lymphoma, a meeting jointly sponsored by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the School of Medicine at the University of Zagreb, Croatia.

Dr. Kantarjian, a professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said most CML patients should receive daily treatment with TKIs – even if they are in complete cytogenetic response or 100% Philadelphia chromosome positive – because they will live longer.

Frontline treatment options for CML that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration include imatinib, dasatinib, nilotinib, and bosutinib.

Dr. Kantarjian noted that dasatinib and nilotinib bested imatinib in early analyses from clinical trials, but all three TKIs produced similar rates of overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) at extended follow-up.

Dasatinib and imatinib produced similar rates of 5-year OS and PFS in the DASISION trial (J Clin Oncol. 2016 Jul 10;34[20]:2333-40).

In ENESTnd, 5-year OS and PFS rates were similar with nilotinib and imatinib (Leukemia. 2016 May;30[5]:1044-54).

However, the higher incidence of uncommon toxicities with the newer TKIs must be taken into account, Dr. Kantarjian said.

Choosing a TKI

Dr. Kantarjian recommends frontline imatinib for older patients (aged 65-70) and those who are low risk based on their Sokal score.

Second-generation TKIs should be given up front to patients who are at higher risk by Sokal and for “very young patients in whom early treatment discontinuation is important,” he said.

“In accelerated or blast phase, I always use the second-generation TKIs,” he said. “If there’s no binding mutation, I prefer dasatinib. I think it’s the most potent of them. If there are toxicities with dasatinib, bosutinib is equivalent in efficacy, so they are interchangeable.”

A TKI should not be discarded unless there is loss of complete cytogenetic response – not major molecular response – at the maximum tolerated adjusted dose that does not cause grade 3-4 toxicities or chronic grade 2 toxicities, Dr. Kantarjian added.

“We have to remember that we can go down on the dosages of, for example, imatinib, down to 200 mg a day, dasatinib as low as 20 mg a day, nilotinib as low as 150 mg twice a day or even 200 mg daily, and bosutinib down to 200 mg daily,” he said. “So if we have a patient who’s responding with side effects, we should not abandon the particular TKI, we should try to manipulate the dose schedule if they are having a good response.”

Dr. Kantarjian noted that pleural effusion is a toxicity of particular concern with dasatinib, but lowering the dose to 50 mg daily results in similar efficacy and significantly less toxicity than 100 mg daily. For patients over the age of 70, a 20-mg dose can be used.

Vaso-occlusive and vasospastic reactions are increasingly observed in patients treated with nilotinib. For that reason, Dr. Kantarjian said he prefers to forgo up-front nilotinib, particularly in patients who have cardiovascular or neurotoxic problems.

“The incidence of vaso-occlusive and vasospastic reactions is now close to 10%-15% at about 10 years with nilotinib,” Dr. Kantarjian said. “So it is not a trivial toxicity.”

For patients with vaso-occlusive/vasospastic reactions, “bosutinib is probably the safest drug,” Dr. Kantarjian said.

For second- or third-line therapy, patients can receive ponatinib or a second-generation TKI (dasatinib, nilotinib, or bosutinib), as well as omacetaxine or allogeneic stem cell transplant.

“If you disregard toxicities, I think ponatinib is the most powerful TKI, and I think that’s because we are using it at a higher dose that produces so many toxicities,” Dr. Kantarjian said.

Ponatinib is not used up front because of these toxicities, particularly pancreatitis, skin rashes, vaso-occlusive disorders, and hypertension, he added.

Dr. Kantarjian suggests giving ponatinib at 30 mg daily in patients with T315I mutation and those without guiding mutations who are resistant to second-generation TKIs.

Next Article: