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With 10+ years follow-up in the Leukaemia Research Fund (LRF) CLL4 trial, we report the effect of salvage therapy, and the clinical/biological features of the 10-year survivors treated for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). Overall survival (OS) was similar in the three randomized arms. With fludarabine-plus-cyclophosphamide (FC), progression-free survival (PFS) was significantly longer (P < 0.0001), but OS after progression significantly shorter, than in the chlorambucil or fludarabine arms (P < 0.0001). 614/777 patients progressed; 524 received second-line and 260 third-line therapy, with significantly better complete remission (CR) rates compared to first-line in the chlorambucil arm (7% vs. 13% after second-, 18% after third-line), but worse in the FC arm (38% vs. 15% after both second and third-line). OS 10 years after progression was better after a second-line CR versus a partial response (36% vs. 16%) and better with FC-based second-line therapy (including rituximab in 20%) or a stem cell transplant (28%) versus all other treatments (10%, P < 0.0001). The 176 (24%) 10-year survivors tended to be aged <70 years, with a "good risk" prognostic profile, stage A-progressive, achieving at least one CR, with a first-line PFS >3 years and receiving ≤2 lines of treatment. In conclusion, clinical/biological features and salvage treatments both influence the long-term outcome. Second-line therapies that induce a CR can improve OS in CLL patients.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Haematol

Publication Date





228 - 237


Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, CLL, clinical trials, prognostic factors, salvage therapy, survival, Aged, Antineoplastic Agents, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Biomarkers, Tumor, Chlorambucil, Cyclophosphamide, Disease Progression, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell, Male, Middle Aged, Prognosis, Remission Induction, Salvage Therapy, Treatment Outcome, Vidarabine