Management of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL) is usually diagnosed in asymptomatic patients with early-stage disease. The standard management approach is careful observation, irrespective of risk factors unless patients meet the International Workshop on CLL (IWCLL) criteria for "active disease," which requires treatment. The initial standard therapy for most patients combines an anti-CD20 antibody (such as rituximab, ofatumumab, or obinutuzumab) with chemotherapy (fludarabine/cyclophosphamide [FC], bendamustine, or chlorambucil) depending on multiple factors including the physical fitness of the patient. However, patients with very high-risk CLL because of a 17p13 deletion (17p-) with or without mutation of TP53 (17p-/TP53mut) have poor responses to chemoimmunotherapy and require alternative treatment regimens containing B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling pathway inhibitors. The BCR signaling pathway inhibitors (ibrutinib targeting Bruton's tyrosine kinase [BTK] and idelalisib targeting phosphatidyl-inositol 3-kinase delta [PI3K-delta], respectively) are currently approved for the treatment of relapsed/refractory CLL and all patients with 17p- (ibrutinib), and in combination with rituximab for relapsed/refractory patients (idelalisib). These agents offer great efficacy, even in chemotherapy refractory CLL, with increased tolerability, safety, and survival. Ongoing studies aim to determine the best therapy combinations with the goal of achieving long-term disease control and the possibility of developing a curative regimen for some patients. CLL is associated with a wide range of infectious, autoimmune, and malignant complications. These complications result in considerable morbidity and mortality that can be minimized by early detection and aggressive management. This active monitoring requires ongoing patient education, provider vigilance, and a team approach to patient care.