Allogeneic and autologous transplantation for chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Stem Cell Transplantation
Autologous and allogeneic transplantation are increasingly used in the management of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Many questions regarding patient selection, efficacy and outcome are unresolved, hence a review of the literature through Medline search. Autologous transplantation for CLL has been used mainly in selected patients under the age of 60. Conditioning typically involves total body irradiation (TBI). Bone marrow and more recently peripheral blood stem cells are used. Treatment-related mortality in most series is less than 10%. Molecular remissions after autologous transplantation are common, and clinical remissions can be prolonged in some patients. Randomized studies are needed to establish whether autologous transplantation confers a survival benefit over standard chemotherapy approaches. Allogeneic transplantation has a considerable treatment-related mortality, but durable remissions sometimes occur in patients with advanced disease. The use of non-myeloablative 'mini-transplants' has been investigated as a method to reduce treatment-related mortality, but prolonged follow-up will be required to establish the cure rate obtained with this procedure. Autologous and allogeneic transplantation are promising treatment modalities. Further refinements of transplant techniques and properly designed prospective studies are necessary to establish the role of stem cell transplantation in the overall management of CLL.