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Haematologica. 2019 Nov;104(11):2206-2214. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2018.214809. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

MR4 sustained for 12 months is associated with stable deep molecular responses in chronic myeloid leukemia.

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Department of Haematology, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
Centre for Haematology, Imperial College London, London, UK.
Department of Haematology, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK.
Institute of Hematology, Davidoff Cancer Centre, Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Centre, Petah-Tiqva, Israel.


The majority of patients with newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) will enjoy a life expectancy equivalent to that of unaffected individuals, but will remain on life-long treatment with a concomitant requirement for on-going hospital interactions for molecular monitoring and drug dispensing. In order to determine more accurately the frequency of monitoring required, we performed a 'real-life' retrospective single-center cohort study of 450 patients with CML in at least major molecular remission (MR3) to analyze the risk of loss of MR3 [defined as at least 2 consecutive real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) results >0.1% International Scale (IS)]. Patients who achieved sustained MR4 (sMR4, BCR-ABL1 RT-qPCR <0.01% IS for 12 months) had a probability of loss of MR3 at 1 and 5 years of 0 and 2.6% (95%CI: 1.2-5.4) respectively, compared to 4.4% (95%CI: 1.9-9.8) and 25.4% (95%CI: 16.7-36.7) respectively, in those who achieved sustained MR3 (sMR3) but not sMR4 (P<0.001). No patient who improved their response to a deep molecular level (at least MR4) lost MR3 if they were considered compliant, had no history of resistance and remained on standard dose tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). MR4 maintained for at least one year represents a secure response threshold for patients with CML, after which no MR3 loss occurs if certain conditions are satisfied (standard TKI dose, full compliance, and lack of previous TKI resistance). This finding may justify reduction of the frequency of hospital interaction, with an associated positive impact on quality of life, survivorship, and economic burden to both patients and healthcare providers.

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