Clinical roundtable monograph: unmet needs in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia: integrating a targeted approach
Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most frequently diagnosed hematologic malignancy in the United States. Although several features can be useful in the diagnosis of CLL, the most important is the immunophenotype.Two staging systems--the Binet system and the Rai classification--are used to assess risk. After diagnosis, the first major therapeutic decision is when to initiate therapy, as a watchful waiting approach is often appropriate for patients with asymptomatic disease. Once a patient has met the criteria for treatment, the choice of therapy is the next major decision. Younger patients (<65 years) often receive more aggressive treatment that typically consists of cytotoxic chemotherapy. There is a great unmet need concerning treatment of older patients with CLL, who often present with more comorbid conditions that can decrease their ability to tolerate particular regimens. The current standard of care for older patients with CLL is rituximab plus chlorambucil. The concept of targeted agents is currently an area of intense interest in CLL. The Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib is the targeted agent that is furthest along in clinical development. It is associated with an overall survival rate of 83%. Idelalisib targets the phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase and is under evaluation in pivotal trials. Targeted agents offer much promise in terms of efficacy, toxicity, and oral availability. They will change the management of patients with CLL.