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Blood. 2012 Jul 26;120(4):737-47. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-03-380147. Epub 2012 May 31.

How I treat CML blast crisis.

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III Medizinische Klinik, Medizinische Fakult├Ąt Mannheim, Ruprecht-Karls-Universit├Ąt, Heidelberg, Germany.


Blast crisis (BC) remains the major challenge in the management of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It is now generally accepted that BC is the consequence of continued BCR-ABL activity leading to genetic instability, DNA damage, and impaired DNA repair. Most patients with BC carry multiple mutations, and up to 80% show additional chromosomal aberrations in a nonrandom pattern. Treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors has improved survival in BC modestly, but most long-term survivors are those who have been transplanted. Patients in BC should be treated with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor according to mutation profile, with or without chemotherapy, with the goal of achieving a second chronic phase and proceeding to allogeneic stem cell transplantation as quickly as possible. Although long-term remissions are rare, allogeneic stem cell transplantation provides the best chance of a cure in BC. Investigational agents are not likely to provide an alternative in the near future. In view of these limited options, prevention of BC by a rigorous and early elimination of BCR-ABL is recommended. Early response indicators should be used to select patients for alternative therapies and early transplantation. Every attempt should be made to reduce or eliminate BCR-ABL consistent with good patient care as far as possible.

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