Seventy year old man presented to Windsor Regional Cancer Centre with fever and pancytopenia on June 24, 2009. Presenting CBC was as follows: WBC 47.8:Ne 0.3, Ly 0.06, Mo 0.62, Meta 0.01, bands 0.01; Hgb 123; Platelets 55,000. A bone marrow biopsy revealed the following: 70% cellularity with sheets of immature blast-like cells; the lesional cells were CD68 and MPO positive and negative for CD34, CD117, CD138, CD20 and CD3. Flow cytometry revealed 46% of the cells positive for CD33, Cd36, CD64, MY4, CD16, HLA-DR, CD13, CD 56, CD10, CD11b, dim CD4, MPO positive, consistent with acute monocytic leukemia. Cytogenetics were 46, XY . He was given the diagnosis of acute monoblastic leukemia and was started on standard induction chemotherapy: 3 + 7 daunorubicin and ara-C. (doses). Repeat bone marrow biopsy on July 17, 2009 revealed lack of remission. This bone marrow revealed sheets of blast-like cells with 30% residual monoblast population and 4% myeloblast population. He was then treated with high dose cytarabine (3 gm / m2 q day 1, 3, 5) for one cycle. Repeat bone marrow biopsy on Aug 20, 2009 revealed non-remission with 20% residual monoblasts. At this time, it was explained to him that he would be treated in a palliative fashion only. He started low dose AraC at this time and received one 21 day course. He showed hematological recovery by September 2009. Repeat bone marrow biopsy on October 5th, 2009 showed 6% residual myeloblast and 40% monocytic population. Because of previous signals of response at our centre to dandelion root tea/ water extract, and because of his current palliative diagnosis, we mentioned dandelion root tea to him. He started this tea on his own and was followed expectantly. Another bone marrow biopsy at the end of November 2009 showed only residual monocytic population of 10 – 12 % with 79% myeloid cells showing dysplastic features consistent with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia type 2.
In March 2010, his platelet count started a gradual decline. By December 29, 2010, the platelet count had dropped to 35,000 × 10 9, and a bone marrow biopsy was done to determine etiology. Bone marrow biopsy from January 25, 2011 shows features suggestive chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. This biopsy revealed monocytic cells, as well as occasional promonocytes. There was adequate megakaryoctyes, no Auer rods, no blasts. The monocytes expressed 9% of the total nucleated cells, and did not express CD56. Flow cytometry reported all normal. A diagnosis of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura was made and patient was started on prednisone with subsequent improvement in his platelet count. CBC on July 4, 2011, almost two years from his diagnosis of refractory M5 AML, patient’s CBC is almost normal with a white blood count of 7.5 ×10*9/L, hemoglobin of 122 g/L, platelets of 134 ×10*9/L, neutrophils of 3.6 × 10*9/L, monocytes of 1.65 × 10*9/L. His quality of life remains excellent. He continues using dandelion root tea. In view of this very exciting response and the more temporary response seen in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, as well as the exciting findings we have seen in monocytic cells lines and tolerance in animal models, we moving into a phase I/II clinical trial examining the effect of dandelion root extract in patients with monocytic leukemias.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.