Acta Med. 2010, 53: 213-220

How I Treat Elderly or Comorbid Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Lukáš Smolej

Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Hradec Králové, 2nd Department of Medicine, Department of Hematology, Czech Republic

Received April 1, 2010
Accepted September 20, 2010

Treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has recently undergone several major changes. Most importantly, large randomized trials (CLL-8 in first line and REACH in relapse) clearly demonstrated superiority of chemoimmunotherapy consisting of fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and rituximab (FCR) over fludarabine and cyclophosphamide (FC) alone, thus establishing FCR regimen as the new gold standard in younger and physically fit patients. However, management of elderly and/or comorbid patients is still a challenging task because they cannot be treated with agressive approaches due to high risk of unacceptable toxicity. To date, no randomized trials in this patient population have improved therapeutic results over chlorambucil; therefore, this agent remains the backbone of treatment against which the new protocols should be tested. When deciding about the intensity of treatment, performance status, biological age and number as well as severity of comorbidities should be taken into account. Emerging treatment concepts for elderly/comorbid patients include combination of chlorambucil with monoclonal antibodies (rituximab, ofatumumab, GA-101), fludarabine-based regimens in reduced doses or protocols based on bendamustine and lenalidomide. Combination of highdose steroids with rituximab represent a promising option in relapsed/refractory CLL; however, infectious toxicity remains a serious issue. Finally, ofatumumab monotherapy appears to be a safe and effective therapy for heavily pretreated patients with CLL. This article reviews the current and future possibilities in the treatment of elderly and comorbid patients with CLL.


This work was supported by research project MZO 00179906 from Ministry of Health, Czech Republic.


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