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Autologous or allogeneic bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplants have not been widely evaluated in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Autologous transplants have been slow to develop because of concerns about cancer cells contaminating the stem cell collection. Allogeneic transplants have been slow to develop because this cancer typically occurs in older patients not suitable for such rigorous treatment. However, several clinical cancer centers have recently been treating patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia with allogeneic or autologous bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplants.

Physicians in Italy treated 12 patients (ages 29-51) with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, 7 with an allogeneic transplant and 5 with an autologous transplant. Seven patients remain in complete remission at an average of 16 months from treatment. The survival at two years is 81% with 71% of patients surviving without recurrent leukemia.

The importance of these findings is that allogeneic or autologous transplantation can result in long-term disease-free survival and should be considered in patients who fail chemotherapy as no other therapy offers a chance for long-term survival. (Annals of Oncology, Vol 9, pp 167-72, 1998)

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