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Therapy of Elderly/Comorbid Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

[ Vol. 18 , Issue. 23 ]


Lukas Smolej   Pages 3399 - 3405 ( 7 )


Treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has recently undergone revolutionary changes. Two large randomized trials demonstrated superiority of chemoimmunotherapy combining fludarabine and cyclophosphamide with monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab (FCR) over fludarabine and cyclophosphamide (FC) alone in first line and relapse; this lead to establishment of FCR regimen as new gold standard in younger and physically fit patients. However, elderly and/or comorbid patients may not tolerate such aggressive approach due to high risk of unacceptable toxicity. To date, no randomized trials in this patient population have improved therapeutic results over chlorambucil; therefore, this agent remains the backbone of treatment against which the new protocols should be tested. Indeed, several currently running large trials investigate whether addition of an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody (rituximab, obinutuzumab, ofatumumab) to chlorambucil yields better results. Performance status, biological age and number/severity of comorbid conditions should be incorporated into decision-making process with regard to intensity of treatment. Other emerging treatment alternatives for this patient population include fludarabine-based regimens in attenuated doses as well as protocols containing bendamustine or lenalidomide. Highdose steroids combined with rituximab might be a promising in relapsed/refractory CLL but infectious toxicity is serious. Finally, ofatumumab has been recently approved for the treatment of fludarabine and alemtuzumab-refractory patients. This article provides an overview of the current and future possibilities in the treatment of elderly and comorbid patients with CLL.


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, comorbidity, health-related quality of life, creatinine clearance, elderly patients, low-dose fludarabine, comprehensive geriatric assessment, randomized trials, FCR regimen, alemtuzumab-refractory patients


Department of Medicine and Hematology, University Hospital and Medical School, Sokolska 581, 500 05 Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.

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