Clinical Review

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: A Review of TKI Therapy

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Case Conclusion

Given the patient's high-risk Sokal score, ideal first-line treatment is a second-generation TKI in order to increase the likelihood of achieving the desired treatment milestones and improving long-term outcomes. Her history of uncontrolled diabetes and coronary artery disease raises concerns for using nilotinib. Furthermore, her history of COPD makes dasatinib suboptimal because she would have little pulmonary reserve if she were to develop a pleural effusion. For this reason, bosutinib 400 mg daily is chosen as her first-line TKI. Shortly after starting bosutinib, she experiences diarrhea that occurs approximately 3 or 4 times daily during the first week on treatment. She is able to manage this with over-the-counter loperamide and the diarrhea resolves shortly thereafter.

After 3 months of bosutinib therapy, quantitative real-time PCR (RQ-PCR) assay on peripheral blood is done to measure BCR-ABL1 transcripts, and the result is reported at 1.2% IS. This indicates that the patient has achieved an early molecular response, which is defined as a RQ-PCR value of ≤10% IS. She undergoes RQ-PCR monitoring every 3 months, and at 12 months her results indicate a value of 0.07% IS, suggesting she has achieved a MMR.


With the development of imatinib and the subsequent TKIs, dasatinib, nilotinib, bosutinib, and ponatinib, CP-CML has become a chronic disease with a life-expectancy that is similar to the general population. Given the successful treatments available for these patients, it is crucial to identify patients with this diagnosis, ensure they receive a complete, appropriate diagnostic workup including a bone marrow biopsy and aspiration with cytogenetic testing, and select the best therapy for each individual patient. Once on treatment, the importance of frequent monitoring cannot be overstated. This is the only way to be certain patients are achieving the desired treatment milestones that correlate with the favorable long-term outcomes that have been observed with TKI-based treatment of CP-CML.


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