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Blood. 2002 Mar 1;99(5):1536-43.

Leading prognostic relevance of the BCR-ABL translocation in adult acute B-lineage lymphoblastic leukemia: a prospective study of the German Multicenter Trial Group and confirmed polymerase chain reaction analysis.

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Department of Hematology, Oncology, and Transfusion Medicine, University Hospital Benjamin Franklin, Free University of Berlin, Germany.


The BCR-ABL fusion, the molecular equivalent of the Philadelphia translocation, gains importance for treatment stratification in adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). In this prospective study, samples from 478 patients with CD10(+) B-cell precursor ALL (c-ALL and pre-B ALL) underwent BCR-ABL reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis with double testing of positive samples. Patients were stratified according to the PCR result and treated in 2 German Multicenter Trials of Adult ALL. The outcome was followed and the prognostic impact of BCR-ABL was compared to clinical risk features. Of the 478 samples, 432 had an evaluable BCR-ABL result. Thirty-seven percent of the c-ALL and pre-B ALL patients were BCR-ABL(+) (p190, 77%; p210, 20%; simultaneous p190/p210, 3%). BCR-ABL positivity was associated with the high-risk features of older age (45 years versus 30 years median age; P =.0001) and higher white blood cell counts (23 500/microL versus 11 550/microL; P =.0001). Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed BCR-ABL as the leading factor for a poor prognosis (P =.0001) in comparison to clinical risk criteria. Irrespective of the breakpoint, presence of any BCR-ABL transcript predicted a lower chance of initial treatment response (68.4% versus 84.6%; P =.001) and a lower probability of disease-free survival at 3 years (0.13 versus 0.47; P =.0001). This bad outcome was not influenced by postinduction high-dose treatment stratifications. The results show a high prevalence of BCR-ABL fusion transcripts with predominance of p190. BCR-ABL RT-PCR is confirmed as a sensitive, rapid method to diagnose t(9;22), and p190 and p210 are unequivocally demonstrated as the most important predictors of poor long-term survival despite intensified chemotherapy.

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