Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative disease that originates in an abnormal pluripotent bone marrow stem cell and is characteristically associated with the Philadelphia chromosome and/or the bcr/abl fusion gene. Despite the exciting success of the bcr/abl tyrosine kinase–specific inhibitor imatinib for CML treatment, hematopoietic stem cell (bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell) transplantation (HCT) remains the only “curative” approach for the majority of patients. Although HCT outcomes for patients with CML have improved considerably during the past 2 decades, relapse after HCT may occur. We analyzed the clinical and pathologic features of 16 cases of hematologically relapsed CML after HCT during a 5-year period at City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA. The results of our analysis showed that relapsed CML after HCT frequently manifested with advanced disease with a more aggressive clinical course and was often refractory to therapy. The frequency of acute leukemic transformation at time of relapse was largely associated with pre-HCT disease status and acquired secondary cytogenetic abnormalities. Disease mortality in patients with relapsed CML after HCT was closely associated with advanced disease and HCT-related complications.

Author notes

Presented in part at the 94th Annual Meeting of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology; February 26-March 4, 2005; San Antonio, TX.