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J Clin Oncol. 2010 May 10;28(14):2381-8. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2009.26.3087. Epub 2010 Apr 12.

Adherence is the critical factor for achieving molecular responses in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia who achieve complete cytogenetic responses on imatinib.

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  • 1Department of Haematology, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Rd, London W12 0NN, United Kingdom.



There is a considerable variability in the level of molecular responses achieved with imatinib therapy in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). These differences could result from variable therapy adherence.


Eighty-seven patients with chronic-phase CML treated with imatinib 400 mg/d for a median of 59.7 months (range, 25 to 104 months) who had achieved complete cytogenetic response had adherence monitored during a 3-month period by using a microelectronic monitoring device. Adherence was correlated with levels of molecular response. Other factors that could influence outcome were also analyzed.


Median adherence rate was 98% (range, 24% to 104%). Twenty-three patients (26.4%) had adherence <or= 90%; in 12 of these patients (14%), adherence was <or= 80%. There was a strong correlation between adherence rate (<or= 90% or > 90%) and the 6-year probability of a 3-log reduction (also known as major molecular response [MMR]) in BCR-ABL1 transcripts (28.4% v 94.5%; P < .001) and also complete molecular response (CMR; 0% v 43.8%; P = .002). Multivariate analysis identified adherence (relative risk [RR], 11.7; P = .001) and expression of the molecular human organic cation transporter-1 (RR, 1.79; P = .038) as the only independent predictors for MMR. Adherence was the only independent predictor for CMR. No molecular responses were observed when adherence was <or= 80% (P < .001). Patients whose imatinib doses were increased had poor adherence (86.4%). In this latter population, adherence was the only independent predictor for inability to achieve an MMR (RR, 17.66; P = .006).


In patients with CML treated with imatinib for some years, poor adherence may be the predominant reason for inability to obtain adequate molecular responses.

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