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Ann Hematol. 2012 Jun;91(6):863-73. doi: 10.1007/s00277-011-1393-y. Epub 2011 Dec 30.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia and prolymphocytic leukemia with MYC translocations: a subgroup with an aggressive disease course.

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  • 1Center for Human Genetics, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.


Translocations involving MYC are rare in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and up to now, their prognostic significance remains unclear. We report the characteristics of 21 patients with CLL and nine patients with prolymphocytic leukemia (PLL), diagnosed in multiple centers (n = 13), which showed an MYC translocation demonstrated by fluorescence in situ hybridization. The prevalence was estimated to be <1%. Advanced age and male predominance were observed. Morphological analysis frequently revealed the presence of prolymphocytes. A typical "CLL-immunophenotype" was found in four of nine cases with PLL. Moreover, CD5 and CD23 were frequently expressed in PLL. The latter findings are atypical for PLL and may suggest transformation or progression of an underlying CLL. MYC translocations were frequently observed with concomitant adverse cytogenetic markers, such as del(11q) (n = 8/30) and/or del(17p)/monosomy 17 (n = 7/30). In addition, the presence of unbalanced translocations (n = 24 in 13/30 cases) and complex karyotype (n = 16/30) were frequent in cases with MYC translocations. Altogether, del(17p)/monosomy 17, del(11q), and/or complex karyotype were observed in 22 of 30 patients. Survival outcome was poor: the median time to treatment was only 5 months, and overall survival (OS) from clinical diagnosis and from genetic detection was 71 and 19 months, respectively. In conclusion, CLL/PLL with MYC translocations is a rare entity, which seems to be associated with adverse prognostic features and unfavorable outcome.

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