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J Clin Oncol. 2012 Dec 10;30(35):4323-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.40.5217. Epub 2012 Oct 29.

Initial molecular response at 3 months may predict both response and event-free survival at 24 months in imatinib-resistant or -intolerant patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase treated with nilotinib.

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  • 1Centre for Cancer Biology, SA Pathology, University of Adelaide, Australia.



The association between initial molecular response and longer-term outcomes with nilotinib was examined.


Patients with imatinib-resistant or -intolerant chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase from the phase II nilotinib registration study with available postbaseline BCR-ABL1 transcript assessments were included (N = 237).


BCR-ABL1 transcript levels (International Scale [IS]) at 3 months correlated with complete cytogenetic response (CCyR) by 24 months. Patients with BCR-ABL1 (IS) of > 1% to ≤ 10% at 3 months with nilotinib had higher cumulative incidence of CCyR by 24 months than patients with BCR-ABL1 (IS) of > 10% (53% v 16%). BCR-ABL1 (IS) at 3 months predicted major molecular response (MMR) by 24 months. Cumulative incidence of MMR by 24 months for patients with BCR-ABL1 (IS) of > 0.1% to ≤ 1%, > 1% to ≤ 10%, and > 10% was 65%, 27%, and 9%, respectively. These differences were observed for patients with or without baseline BCR-ABL1 mutations and for those with imatinib resistance or intolerance. Estimated event-free survival (EFS) rates at 24 months decreased with higher transcript levels at 3 months; patients with BCR-ABL1 (IS) of ≤ 1% had an estimated 24-month EFS rate of 82%, compared with 70% for patients with BCR-ABL1 (IS) of > 1% to ≤ 10% and 48% for patients with BCR-ABL1 (IS) of > 10%.


Patients with BCR-ABL1 (IS) of > 10% at 3 months had a lower cumulative incidence of CCyR and MMR and lower rates of EFS versus patients with BCR-ABL1 (IS) of ≤ 10%. Prospective studies may determine whether close monitoring or alternative therapies are warranted for patients with minimal initial molecular response.

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