Multiple recent studies have demonstrated the survival benefits of reduced intensity allogeneic stem cell transplant for high risk CLL patients. These transplant series, however, represent highly selected cases where age, co-morbidities and performance status preclude transplant in many patients with CLL. The portion of newly diagnosed CLL patients that are eventually considered for transplant is unknown, as well as the proportion that are referred for transplant evaluation; the proportion that actually receive stem cell transplant, and the reasons for not pursuing transplant in referred patients. We conducted a cohort study of newly diagnosed CLL patients to address this gap in knowledge.
We used the Mayo Clinic database to identify all patients with newly diagnosed CLL seen at Mayo Clinic within 1 year of diagnosis between July of 2003 and May of 2011 (time interval during which reduced intensity allogeneic stem cell transplantation was part of routine care at Mayo Clinic). Electronic medical record and laboratory studies were reviewed to identify all patients referred for stem cell transplant evaluation (either allogeneic transplant for progressive CLL or autologous stem cell transplant for Richter's transformation). Patients referred for transplant were analyzed to determine what proportion completed transplant and, for those who were not transplanted, the reason they were not transplanted (e.g. lack of insurance approval, co-morbidity, lack of a donor, inadequate disease control, death prior to transplant or patient preference).
A total of 1250 patients with newly diagnosed CLL between July 2003 and May 2011 who were seen at Mayo Clinic within 1 year of diagnosis were identified. The mean age at diagnosis was 63.6 yrs and 34.2% were women. With respect to disease stage, 48.7% were Rai stage 0, 45.5% Rai stage I/II, and 5.8% Rai stage III/IV. CLL FISH analysis revealed 126 (13.6%) patients who had either del (17p) or del (11q) and 801 (86.4%) patients who had other FISH abnormalities or normal FISH results. After a median follow-up of 41 months, 425 (34%) of patients have received treatment.
A total of 54 patients (4.3%) were referred for a transplant evaluation during follow-up. Of these 54 patients, 48 (3.8% overall cohort) were referred for consideration of allogenic transplant for treatment of progressive CLL and 6 (0.5%) were referred for autologous transplant for treatment of Richter's transformation.
Baseline characteristics associated with subsequent transplant referral included age at diagnosis (median: 56 yrs) (p < 0.0001, Odds Ratio (OR) for each year older = 0.91, 95% Confidence Interval (CI)=(0.88, 0.95)), Rai stage (III/IV vs. 0) (p = 0.0002, OR = 22.7, 95% CI=(5.1, 102.4)) and FISH (del(11q), del(17p) vs Normal, del(13q) or Trisomy 12) (p < 0.0001, OR = 7.3, 95% CI=(3.3, 16.1)). Gender, Rai stage (I/II vs. 0), and patient residence (local vs. not local) were not significant.
Among the 54 patients referred for transplant, 28 (51.9%) completed a transplant. This included 22 (45.8%) patients referred for allogenic transplant and 6 (100%) patients referred for autologous transplant. Among the 26 patients referred who did not undergo transplant, the principal reasons were patient preference (n = 6, 23.1%), patient still being evaluated for transplant as of the study end date (n = 6, 23.1%), alternative therapy chosen (n = 5, 19.2%), inadequate disease control (n = 3, 11.5%), death prior to transplant (n = 3, 11.5%), lack of insurance approval (n = 2, 7.7%), and lack of a donor (n = 1, 3.8%).
4.3% of the newly diagnosed CLL patients in this series were considered for stem cell transplant at some point during follow-up. Young age, high Rai stage and high risk FISH abnormalities are principal reasons for transplant referral. Only 51.9% of those considered for transplant completed transplant. The principal reasons for referral patients not completing transplant who had adequate time to follow were patient preference, alternative therapy, inadequate disease control and death prior to transplant. The remaining 6 patients (23%) are in process of transplant evaluation with longer follow required. These analyses provide first incidence data for CLL transplant referral in a cohort of newly diagnosed patients.
Zent:Biothera: Research Funding; Genzyme: Research Funding; Genentech: Research Funding; Novartis: Research Funding; GlaxoSmithKlime: Research Funding. Shanafelt:Celgene: Research Funding; Teva/Cephalon: Research Funding; GlaxoSmith Klein: Research Funding; Genentech: Research Funding; Hospira: Research Funding; Polyphenon E International: Research Funding.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.