Molecular responses in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia in chronic phase treated with imatinib mesylate

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Purpose: To determine the clinical significance of molecular response and relapse among patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) treated with imatinib. Experimental Design: We analyzed the results of quantitative PCR in 280 patients with CML in chronic phase who achieved complete cytogenetic remission with imatinib (117 after IFN-α failure and 163 previously untreated). Median follow-up was 31 months (range, 3-52 months). Results: Median BCR-ABL/ABL ratio before the start of therapy was 39.44 (range, 0.252-170.53). A major molecular response (BCR-ABL/ABL ratio <0.05%) was achieved in 174 (62%), and transcripts became undetectable (complete molecular response) in 95 (34%). By multivariate analysis, only treatment with high-dose imatinib (P = 0.02) was associated with achievement of a major molecular response. Nine of 166 (5%) patients who achieved a major molecular response lost their cytogenetic remission, compared with 25 of 68 (37%) among those who did not achieve this response (P < 0.0001). Patients achieving a major molecular response 12 months after the start of therapy had significantly better complete cytogenetic remission duration than others. A >1-log reduction in transcript levels after 3 months of therapy predicted for an improved probability of achieving a major molecular response at 24 months. Increasing levels of BCR-ABL transcripts predicted for a loss of cytogenetic remission only among patients who did not achieve a major molecular response. Conclusions: Achieving a major molecular response, particularly within the first year of therapy, is predictive of a durable cytogenetic remission and may be the future goal of therapy in CML. © 2005 American Association for Cancer Research.




Cortes, J., Talpaz, M., O’Brien, S., Jones, D., Luthra, R., Shan, J., … Kantarjian, H. (2005). Molecular responses in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia in chronic phase treated with imatinib mesylate. Clinical Cancer Research, 11(9), 3425–3432.

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