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1.  Commentary: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia—The Price of Progress 
The Oncologist  2010;15(6):601-602.
The study looks at the high cost of new treatments for chronic lymphocytic leukemia and calls for the consideration of a standardized and transparent method to determine the price of new drugs based on comparative effectiveness.
PMCID: PMC3227992  PMID: 20463087
2.  Incidence of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and High Count Monoclonal B-cell Lymphocytosis using the 2008 Guidelines 
Cancer  2014;120(13):2000-2005.
The National Cancer Institute Working Group (NCI-WG 96) guidelines classified individuals having a B-cell clone with CLL immunophenotype as CLL if the absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) was ≥5 × 109/L. 2008 International Workshop on CLL guidelines (IWCLL 2008) classified as CLL if the absolute B-cell count is ≥5 × 109/L or as monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL) if the absolute B-cell count is <5 × 109/L. This study of Olmsted County, Minnesota, assessed effects of these changes on incidence rates and presentation from 2000–2010.
Using diagnostic indices available through the Rochester Epidemiology Project and the Mayo CLL database, we identified all newly diagnosed CLL and high count MBL cases from 2000–2010. Age and sex specific incidence rates were determined.
With NCI-WG 96 criteria, there were 115 cases of CLL and 8 cases of MBL. Using IWCLL 2008 classification, there were 79 cases of CLL and 40 cases of MBL. Rai stage distribution (low, intermediate, high) using NCI-WG 96 was 60.9%, 33.9% and 5.2% compared to 43.0%, 49.4%, and 7.6% under IWCLL 2008 criteria. The age- and sex-adjusted incidence rate (per 100,000) for CLL and MBL were 10.0 and 0.66 using NCI-WG 96 versus 6.8 and 3.5 using IWCLL 2008. Median time to treatment (TTT) using NCI-WG 96 was 9.2 years versus 6.5 years with IWCLL 2008
Use of the IWCLL 2008 guidelines reduce the incidence of CLL, alter the distribution of initial Rai stage at diagnosis and shorten median TTT.
PMCID: PMC4124730  PMID: 24711224
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis; incidence; epidemiology; natural history
3.  Use of Positron Emission Tomography-Computerized Tomography (PET-CT) in the Management of Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia/Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (CLL) 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2014;55(9):2079-2084.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL) cells typically have low 2-deoxy-2-[18F] fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) avidity and CLL patients have an increased risk of developing FDG-avid aggressive lymphomas, second malignancies, and infections. We hypothesized that FDG positron emission tomography-computed tomography of the trunk (PET-CT) is a sensitive method of detecting these complications in patients with CLL.
Of the of 2299 CLL patients seen in the Division of Hematology at Mayo Clinic Rochester between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2011, 272 (11.8%) had 526 PET-CT scans and 472 (89.7%) of these were reported as abnormal. Among the 293 (55.7%) PET-CT scans used for routine evaluation of CLL, the PET component was of clinical value in only one instance. In contrast, in 83 (30.5%) patients, PET-CT scans used to evaluate new clinical complications localized high FDG avidity lesions for biopsies. This resulted in clinically relevant new diagnoses in 32 patients including more aggressive lymphoma (n=16), non-hematological malignancies (n=8), and opportunistic infections (n=3). Twenty-seven patients had high FDG avidity CLL, which was associated with prominent lymph node proliferation centers, an increased frequency of poor prognostic factors (17p13 deletion, unmutated IGHV, expression of ZAP-70 and CD38), and a shorter overall survival.
We conclude that FDG PET scans should not be used for routine surveillance of patients with CLL. However PET-CT scans are sensitive, but not specific, for detection of aggressive lymphomas, other cancers, and systemic infections in patients with CLL.
PMCID: PMC4419693  PMID: 24286263
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; small lymphocytic lymphoma; PET; CT; imaging
4.  Medical History, Lifestyle, Family History, and Occupational Risk Factors for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia/Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma: The InterLymph Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Subtypes Project 
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) are two subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A number of studies have evaluated associations between risk factors and CLL/SLL risk. However, these associations remain inconsistent or lacked confirmation. This may be due, in part, to the inadequate sample size of CLL/SLL cases.
We performed a pooled analysis of 2440 CLL/SLL cases and 15186 controls from 13 case-control studies from Europe, North America, and Australia. We evaluated associations of medical history, family history, lifestyle, and occupational risk factors with CLL/SLL risk. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
We confirmed prior inverse associations with any atopic condition and recreational sun exposure. We also confirmed prior elevated associations with usual adult height, hepatitis C virus seropositivity, living or working on a farm, and family history of any hematological malignancy. Novel associations were identified with hairdresser occupation (OR = 1.77, 95% CI = 1.05 to 2.98) and blood transfusion history (OR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.66 to 0.94). We also found smoking to have modest protective effect (OR = 0.9, 95% CI = 0.81 to 0.99). All exposures showed evidence of independent effects.
We have identified or confirmed several independent risk factors for CLL/SLL supporting a role for genetics (through family history), immune function (through allergy and sun), infection (through hepatitis C virus), and height, and other pathways of immune response. Given that CLL/SLL has more than 30 susceptibility loci identified to date, studies evaluating the interaction among genetic and nongenetic factors are warranted.
PMCID: PMC4155456  PMID: 25174025
5.  Etiologic Heterogeneity Among Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Subtypes: The InterLymph Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Subtypes Project 
Morton, Lindsay M. | Slager, Susan L. | Cerhan, James R. | Wang, Sophia S. | Vajdic, Claire M. | Skibola, Christine F. | Bracci, Paige M. | de Sanjosé, Silvia | Smedby, Karin E. | Chiu, Brian C. H. | Zhang, Yawei | Mbulaiteye, Sam M. | Monnereau, Alain | Turner, Jennifer J. | Clavel, Jacqueline | Adami, Hans-Olov | Chang, Ellen T. | Glimelius, Bengt | Hjalgrim, Henrik | Melbye, Mads | Crosignani, Paolo | di Lollo, Simonetta | Miligi, Lucia | Nanni, Oriana | Ramazzotti, Valerio | Rodella, Stefania | Costantini, Adele Seniori | Stagnaro, Emanuele | Tumino, Rosario | Vindigni, Carla | Vineis, Paolo | Becker, Nikolaus | Benavente, Yolanda | Boffetta, Paolo | Brennan, Paul | Cocco, Pierluigi | Foretova, Lenka | Maynadié, Marc | Nieters, Alexandra | Staines, Anthony | Colt, Joanne S. | Cozen, Wendy | Davis, Scott | de Roos, Anneclaire J. | Hartge, Patricia | Rothman, Nathaniel | Severson, Richard K. | Holly, Elizabeth A. | Call, Timothy G. | Feldman, Andrew L. | Habermann, Thomas M. | Liebow, Mark | Blair, Aaron | Cantor, Kenneth P. | Kane, Eleanor V. | Lightfoot, Tracy | Roman, Eve | Smith, Alex | Brooks-Wilson, Angela | Connors, Joseph M. | Gascoyne, Randy D. | Spinelli, John J. | Armstrong, Bruce K. | Kricker, Anne | Holford, Theodore R. | Lan, Qing | Zheng, Tongzhang | Orsi, Laurent | Dal Maso, Luigino | Franceschi, Silvia | La Vecchia, Carlo | Negri, Eva | Serraino, Diego | Bernstein, Leslie | Levine, Alexandra | Friedberg, Jonathan W. | Kelly, Jennifer L. | Berndt, Sonja I. | Birmann, Brenda M. | Clarke, Christina A. | Flowers, Christopher R. | Foran, James M. | Kadin, Marshall E. | Paltiel, Ora | Weisenburger, Dennis D. | Linet, Martha S. | Sampson, Joshua N.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) comprises biologically and clinically heterogeneous subtypes. Previously, study size has limited the ability to compare and contrast the risk factor profiles among these heterogeneous subtypes.
We pooled individual-level data from 17 471 NHL cases and 23 096 controls in 20 case–control studies from the International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium (InterLymph). We estimated the associations, measured as odds ratios, between each of 11 NHL subtypes and self-reported medical history, family history of hematologic malignancy, lifestyle factors, and occupation. We then assessed the heterogeneity of associations by evaluating the variability (Q value) of the estimated odds ratios for a given exposure among subtypes. Finally, we organized the subtypes into a hierarchical tree to identify groups that had similar risk factor profiles. Statistical significance of tree partitions was estimated by permutation-based P values (P NODE).
Risks differed statistically significantly among NHL subtypes for medical history factors (autoimmune diseases, hepatitis C virus seropositivity, eczema, and blood transfusion), family history of leukemia and multiple myeloma, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and certain occupations, whereas generally homogeneous risks among subtypes were observed for family history of NHL, recreational sun exposure, hay fever, allergy, and socioeconomic status. Overall, the greatest difference in risk factors occurred between T-cell and B-cell lymphomas (P NODE < 1.0×10−4), with increased risks generally restricted to T-cell lymphomas for eczema, T-cell-activating autoimmune diseases, family history of multiple myeloma, and occupation as a painter. We further observed substantial heterogeneity among B-cell lymphomas (P NODE < 1.0×10−4). Increased risks for B-cell-activating autoimmune disease and hepatitis C virus seropositivity and decreased risks for alcohol consumption and occupation as a teacher generally were restricted to marginal zone lymphoma, Burkitt/Burkitt-like lymphoma/leukemia, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and/or lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma/Waldenström macroglobulinemia.
Using a novel approach to investigate etiologic heterogeneity among NHL subtypes, we identified risk factors that were common among subtypes as well as risk factors that appeared to be distinct among individual or a few subtypes, suggesting both subtype-specific and shared underlying mechanisms. Further research is needed to test putative mechanisms, investigate other risk factors (eg, other infections, environmental exposures, and diet), and evaluate potential joint effects with genetic susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC4155467  PMID: 25174034
6.  Addition of GM-CSF Does Not Improve Response to Early Treatment of High Risk Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia with Alemtuzumab and Rituximab 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2012;54(3):476-482.
Thirty-three previously untreated patients with high risk CLL were treated before meeting standard criteria with alemtuzumab and rituximab. GM-CSF was added to the regimen to determine if it would improve treatment efficacy without increasing toxicity. High risk was defined as at least one of the following: 17p13-; 11q22.3-; unmutated IGHV (or use of VH3-21) together with elevated expression of ZAP-70 and/or CD38. Treatment was subcutaneous GM-CSF 250μg Monday-Wednesday-Friday for 6 weeks from day 1, subcutaneous alemtuzumab 3mg-10mg-30mg from day 3 and then 30 mg Monday-Wednesday-Friday for 4 weeks, and intravenous rituximab (375 mg/m2/week) for 4 weeks from day 8. Patients received standard supportive care and were monitored weekly for CMV reactivation. Using standard criteria, 31 (94%) patients responded to treatment with 9 (27%) complete responses (one with persistent cytopenia) and 9 (27%) nodular partial responses. Median progression free survival was 13.0 months and time to next treatment was 33.5 months. No patient died during treatment, seven (21%) had grade 3-4 toxicities attributable to treatment, and 10 (30%) had CMV viremia. Addition of GM-CSF to therapy with alemtuzumab and rituximab decreased treatment efficacy and increased the rate of CMV reactivation compared to a historical control.
PMCID: PMC4419690  PMID: 22853816
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; high risk; early treatment; alemtuzumab; rituximab; GM-CSF
8.  Skin Cancer Surveillance and Malignancies of the Skin in a Community-Dwelling Cohort of Patients With Newly Diagnosed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2013;10(1):e1-e4.
The authors documented a low compliance with guidelines to screen for skin malignancy in a community-dwelling cohort of patients with newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Assess compliance with skin cancer screening guidelines in a community-dwelling cohort of patients with newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and evaluate the clinical utility of such screening.
We identified patients diagnosed at Mayo Clinic with CLL between January 1, 2004, and June 1, 2012, who resided within 30 miles of Mayo Clinic. We evaluated adherence to skin cancer screening and identified the prevalence of skin malignancies during follow-up. Medical records were reviewed to document skin cancer screening and diagnosis of a skin malignancy.
Collectively, 113 individuals who met criteria were diagnosed with CLL during the study interval. Forty-one patients (36%) had a whole body skin examination by either a dermatologist or primary care provider documented within 6 months of diagnosis; of these; nine (8% of overall cohort; 22% of examined patients) had a skin malignancy identified. Fifteen additional skin malignancies were diagnosed during follow-up. There were a total of 24 skin malignancies (21% of cohort) diagnosed, including basal cell carcinoma (n = 10), squamous cell carcinoma (n = 11), sebaceous carcinomas (n = 2), and melanoma (n = 1).
We documented a low compliance with guidelines to screen for skin malignancy in a community-dwelling cohort of patients with newly diagnosed CLL. Standardized and systems-based approaches are likely to increase compliance with skin cancer screening guidelines in patients with CLL.
PMCID: PMC4500828  PMID: 23981385
9.  Chemoimmunotherapy for Relapsed/Refractory and Progressive 17p13 Deleted Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) Combining Pentostatin, Alemtuzumab, and Low Dose Rituximab is Effective and Tolerable and Limits Loss of CD20 Expression by Circulating CLL Cells 
American journal of hematology  2014;89(7):757-765.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL) patients with purine analogue refractory disease or TP53 dysfunction still have limited treatment options and poor survival. Alemtuzumab containing chemoimmunotherapy regimens can be effective but frequently cause serious infections. We report a phase II trial testing the efficacy and tolerability of a short duration regimen combining pentostatin, alemtuzumab, and low dose high frequency rituximab (PAR) designed to decrease the risk of treatment associated infections and limit loss of CD20 expression by CLL cells. The study enrolled 39 patients with progressive CLL that was either relapsed/refractory (n=36) or previously untreated with 17p13 deletion (17p13-)(n=3). Thirteen (33%) patients had both 17p13- and TP53 mutations predicted to be dysfunctional and eight patients had purine analogue refractory CLL without TP53 dysfunction. Twenty-six (67%) patients completed therapy with only five (13%) patients having treatment limiting toxicity, and no treatment related deaths. Twenty-two (56%) patients responded to treatment with 11 (28%) complete responses (four with incomplete bone marrow recovery). Median progression free survival was 7.2 months, time to next treatment 9.1 months, and overall survival 34.1 months. The majority of deaths (82%) were caused by progressive disease including transformed diffuse large B cell lymphoma (n=6). Correlative studies showed that low dose rituximab activates complement and NK cells without a profound and sustained decrease in expression of CD20 by circulating CLL cells. We conclude that PAR is a tolerable and effective therapy for CLL and that low dose rituximab therapy can activate innate immune cytotoxic mechanisms without substantially decreasing CD20 expression.
PMCID: PMC4280857  PMID: 24723493
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma; CLL/SLL; relapsed/refractory; TP53/p53/17p13 deletion; alemtuzumab and low dose rituximab; trogocytosis
10.  Ofatumumab-based chemoimmunotherapy is effective and well tolerated in patients with previously untreated CLL 
Cancer  2013;119(21):3788-3796.
Although rituximab-based chemoimmunotherapy (CIT) has substantially improved clinical outcomes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), only 40-50% of patients achieve a complete remission (CR). There remains interest in identifying new approaches to improve the effectiveness of CIT. Ofatumumab is a fully human anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody with greater apparent single agent activity than rituximab in CLL patients.
Previously untreated CLL patients in need of therapy received 6 cycles of CIT induction with pentostatin, cyclophosphamide and ofatumumab (PCO) followed by response assessment.
Of the 48 patients enrolled, 77% completed PCO induction. Adverse events during induction included grade 3+ hematologic toxicity (27%) and grade 3+ non-hematologic toxicity (23%). Median CD4 count post induction and 6 months later were 186 ×106/L and 272 ×106/L. The overall response rate was 96% (46/48) and the CR rate was 46% (22/48). Among the 38 patients who underwent minimal residual disease (MRD) evaluation, 7 (18%) were MRD negative. After median follow-up of 24 months, 10 (21%) patients have progressed and 8 (17%) have required retreatment. The efficacy and toxicity of ofatumumab-based CIT compare favorably to our historical trials of rituximab-based CIT using an identical chemotherapy backbone (n=64). Time to retreatment also appeared longer for ofatumumab-based CIT (free of retreatment at 24 months: 86% [95%CI: 75-99] vs 68% [95% CI: 56-81]).
Ofatumumab-based CIT is well tolerated in patients with previously untreated CLL. The efficacy of ofatumumab-based CIT compares favorably to historical trials of rituximab-based CIT suggesting randomized trials comparing ofatumumab-based CIT and rituximab-based CIT should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3894149  PMID: 23922059
chronic lymphocytic leukemia(CLL; small lymphocytic lymphoma(SLL); treatment; ofatumumab; chemoimmunotherapy
11.  Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (Richter Syndrome) in Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia: A Cohort Study of Newly Diagnosed Patients 
British journal of haematology  2013;162(6):774-782.
Nearly all information about patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who develop diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (Richter syndrome [RS]) is derived from retrospective case series or patients treated on clinical trials. We used the Mayo Clinic CLL Database to identify patients with newly diagnosed CLL (1/2000–7/2011). Individuals who developed biopsy-proven RS during follow-up were identified. After median follow-up of 4 years, 37/1641 (2.3%) CLL patients developed RS. The rate of RS was approximately 0.5%/year. Risk of RS was associated with advanced Rai stage at diagnosis (p<0.001), high-risk FISH (p<0.0001), unmutated IGHV (p=0.003), and expression of ZAP-70 (p=0.02) and CD38 (p=0.001). The rate of RS doubled in patients treated for CLL (1%/year). Stereotyped B-cell receptors (odds-ratio=4.2; p=0.01) but not VH4–39 was associated with increased risk of RS. Treatment with combination of purine analogues and alkylating agents increased the risk of RS 3-fold (odds-ratio= 3.26, p=0.0003). Median survival after RS diagnosis was 2.1 years. The RS prognosis score stratified patients into three risk groups with median survivals of 0.5 years, 2.1 years and not reached. Both underlying characteristics of the CLL clone and subsequent CLL therapy influence the risk of RS. Survival after RS remains poor and new therapies are needed.
PMCID: PMC4098845  PMID: 23841899
transformation; aggressive lymphoma; stem cell transplantation; purine analogues; RS survival score
12.  Mapping of the IRF8 gene identifies a 3’ UTR variant associated with risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia but not other common non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes 
Our genome-wide association study (GWAS) of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) identified 4 highly-correlated intronic variants within the IRF8 gene that were associated with CLL. These results were further supported by a recent meta-analysis of our GWAS with two other GWAS of CLL, supporting the IRF8 gene as a strong candidate for CLL risk.
To refine the genetic association of CLL risk, we performed Sanger sequencing of IRF8 in 94 CLL cases and 96 controls. We then performed fine-mapping by genotyping 39 variants (of which 10 were identified from sequencing) in 745 CLL cases and 1521 controls. We also assessed these associations with risk of other non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) subtypes.
The strongest association with CLL risk was observed with a common SNP located within the 3’ UTR of IRF8 (rs1044873, log additive odds ratio = 0.7, P=1.81×10−6). This SNP was not associated with the other NHL subtypes (all P>0.05).
We provide evidence that rs1044873 in the IRF8 gene accounts for the initial GWAS signal for CLL risk. This association appears to be unique to CLL with little support for association with other common NHL subtypes. Future work is needed to assess functional role of IRF8 in CLL etiology.
These data provide support that a functional variant within the 3’ UTR of IRF8 may be driving the GWAS signal seen on 16q24.1 for CLL risk.
PMCID: PMC3596428  PMID: 23307532
CLL; NHL; SNPs; IRF8; risk locus
13.  N9986: a phase II trial of thalidomide in patients with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2009;50(4):588-592.
We enrolled 28 eligible patients with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) to a phase II study of single agent thalidomide (200 mg/d, with dose escalation up to 1000 mg/d over 60 days). The median age was 66 years and 71% were males. Study participants received a median of 2 (range 1–7) prior treatment regimens and 61% had Rai stage 3–4 disease at enrollment. Grade 3 or higher hematologic toxicity was observed in 13 (46%) and 16 (57%) had grade 3 or higher non-hematologic toxicity. Grade 3–4 tumor flare was observed in five (18%) patients. The overall response rate was 11% (3 of 28) with one (4%) complete remission and two (7%) partial remissions. Duration of response for these three responders was 3, 14 and 15 months. Fourteen (50%) patients had stabilisation of disease for a median duration of 8 months (95% CI: 7–16 months). Median time to progression for all 28 patients was 7.3 months. Although thalidomide appears to have modest clinical activity in pretreated/relapsed CLL primarily based on reduction of the absolute lymphocyte count, in our opinion the toxicity profile precludes it from more active investigation in CLL.
PMCID: PMC3928100  PMID: 19373657
CLL; treatment; relapsed; thalidomide; angiogenesis
14.  Autoimmune Cytopenia in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia/Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (CLL): Changes in Clinical Presentation and Prognosis 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2009;50(8):1261-1268.
Improved medical care could have altered the clinical presentation and survival of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL) complicated by autoimmune cytopenia (AID cytopenia). We reviewed the clinical characteristics, treatment, and outcome of AID cytopenia that was diagnosed in 75 (4.3%) of 1750 CLL patients seen at a single institution over 10 years. Compared to historical reported data, our study shows a lower rate of autoimmune hemolytic anemia (2.3%), and similar rates of immune thrombocytopenia (2.0%) and pure red blood cell aplasia (0.5%). AID cytopenia occurred at all stages of CLL, responded well to treatment, did not alter overall survival, and contributed to death in only 6 (12%) patients. We propose that more sensitive and accurate diagnostic methods for CLL have decreased the perceived prevalence of AID cytopenia and that improvements in management could have increased the survival of these patients.
PMCID: PMC3917557  PMID: 19811329
15.  Statin and Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID) Use In Relation to Clinical Outcome Among Patients with Rai Stage 0 Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2010;51(7):1233-1240.
Statins and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most commonly prescribed medications. In vitro studies suggest that statins and NSAIDs may have potential as anti-cancer therapies in low grade non-Hodgkin lymphomas including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and a recent observational study found statin use was associated with improved event free survival in patients with follicular lymphoma. Other studies have suggested that statins reduce the efficacy of rituximab by inhibiting binding to CD20. We therefore conducted an observational cohort study of 686 patients with newly diagnosed Rai stage 0 CLL to evaluate whether statin or NSAID use was related to their clinical outcome or influenced the efficacy of rituximab therapy. At diagnosis, 136 (20%) patients took statins and 230 (34%) scheduled daily aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. No difference in time to treatment was observed based on statin or NSAID use. Among patients receiving a rituximab containing first-line therapy, no difference in time to salvage treatment was observed based on statin use. Although previous studies suggested statins may improve event free survival among patients with follicular lymphoma, we find no impact of statins on time to initial therapy in this large study of patients with Rai stage 0 CLL. The in vitro observation that statins reduce rituximab efficacy does not appear to have clinical significance in CLL care.
PMCID: PMC3913168  PMID: 20496995
16.  Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Multiple Risk Loci for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Berndt, Sonja I. | Skibola, Christine F. | Joseph, Vijai | Camp, Nicola J. | Nieters, Alexandra | Wang, Zhaoming | Cozen, Wendy | Monnereau, Alain | Wang, Sophia S. | Kelly, Rachel S. | Lan, Qing | Teras, Lauren R. | Chatterjee, Nilanjan | Chung, Charles C. | Yeager, Meredith | Brooks-Wilson, Angela R. | Hartge, Patricia | Purdue, Mark P. | Birmann, Brenda M. | Armstrong, Bruce K. | Cocco, Pierluigi | Zhang, Yawei | Severi, Gianluca | Zeleniuch-Jacquotte, Anne | Lawrence, Charles | Burdette, Laurie | Yuenger, Jeffrey | Hutchinson, Amy | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Call, Timothy G. | Shanafelt, Tait D. | Novak, Anne J. | Kay, Neil E. | Liebow, Mark | Wang, Alice H. | Smedby, Karin E | Adami, Hans-Olov | Melbye, Mads | Glimelius, Bengt | Chang, Ellen T. | Glenn, Martha | Curtin, Karen | Cannon-Albright, Lisa A. | Jones, Brandt | Diver, W. Ryan | Link, Brian K. | Weiner, George J. | Conde, Lucia | Bracci, Paige M. | Riby, Jacques | Holly, Elizabeth A. | Smith, Martyn T. | Jackson, Rebecca D. | Tinker, Lesley F. | Benavente, Yolanda | Becker, Nikolaus | Boffetta, Paolo | Brennan, Paul | Foretova, Lenka | Maynadie, Marc | McKay, James | Staines, Anthony | Rabe, Kari G. | Achenbach, Sara J. | Vachon, Celine M. | Goldin, Lynn R | Strom, Sara S. | Lanasa, Mark C. | Spector, Logan G. | Leis, Jose F. | Cunningham, Julie M. | Weinberg, J. Brice | Morrison, Vicki A. | Caporaso, Neil E. | Norman, Aaron D. | Linet, Martha S. | De Roos, Anneclaire J. | Morton, Lindsay M. | Severson, Richard K. | Riboli, Elio | Vineis, Paolo | Kaaks, Rudolph | Trichopoulos, Dimitrios | Masala, Giovanna | Weiderpass, Elisabete | Chirlaque, María-Dolores | Vermeulen, Roel C H | Travis, Ruth C. | Giles, Graham G. | Albanes, Demetrius | Virtamo, Jarmo | Weinstein, Stephanie | Clavel, Jacqueline | Zheng, Tongzhang | Holford, Theodore R | Offit, Kenneth | Zelenetz, Andrew | Klein, Robert J. | Spinelli, John J. | Bertrand, Kimberly A. | Laden, Francine | Giovannucci, Edward | Kraft, Peter | Kricker, Anne | Turner, Jenny | Vajdic, Claire M. | Ennas, Maria Grazia | Ferri, Giovanni M. | Miligi, Lucia | Liang, Liming | Sampson, Joshua | Crouch, Simon | Park, Ju-hyun | North, Kari E. | Cox, Angela | Snowden, John A. | Wright, Josh | Carracedo, Angel | Lopez-Otin, Carlos | Bea, Silvia | Salaverria, Itziar | Martin, David | Campo, Elias | Fraumeni, Joseph F. | de Sanjose, Silvia | Hjalgrim, Henrik | Cerhan, James R. | Chanock, Stephen J. | Rothman, Nathaniel | Slager, Susan L.
Nature genetics  2013;45(8):868-876.
PMCID: PMC3729927  PMID: 23770605
17.  Age at Diagnosis and the Utility of Prognostic Testing in Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) 
Cancer  2010;116(20):4777-4787.
To analyze the survival of CLL patients relative to age-matched individuals in the general population and determined the age-stratified utility of prognostic testing.
All 2487 patients diagnosed with CLL between January 1995 and June 2008 and cared for in the Mayo Division of Hematology were categorized by age at diagnosis and evaluated for differences in clinical characteristics, time to first treatment(TFT), and overall survival(OS).
Among Rai stage 0 patients, survival was shorter than the age-matched general population for patients age<55 years(p<0.001), 55-64 years(p<0.001), and 65-74 years(p<0.001) but not those age≥75 at diagnosis(p=NS). CD38, IGHV mutation, and ZAP-70 each predicted TFT independent of stage for all age groups(all p <0.04) but had less value for predicting OS, particularly as age increased. IGHV and FISH predicted OS independent of stage for patients
Survival of CLL patients age<75 is shorter than the age-matched general population regardless of disease stage. Among patients age<75, the simple combinations of stage and IGHV or stage and FISH identifies those with excess risk of death relative to the age-matched population. Although useful for predicting TFT independent of stage for patients of all ages, prognostic testing had little utility for predicting OS independent of stage among patients age≥75.
PMCID: PMC3902481  PMID: 20578179
Cancer  2011;118(7):1827-1837.
The impact of physicians’ disease-specific expertise on patient outcome is unknown. While previous studies suggest a survival advantage for cancer patients cared for at high volume centers, these observations may simply reflect referral bias or better access to advanced technologies, clinical trials, and multidisciplinary support at large centers.
We evaluated time to first treatment(TTFT) and overall survival(OS) of patients with newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma(CLL) at a single academic center based on whether they were cared for by a hematologist/oncologist who sub-specializes in CLL(CLL hematologist) or a hematologist/oncologist with expertise in other areas(non-CLL hematologist).
Among 1309 newly diagnosed patients with CLL cared for between 1999–2009, 773(59%) were cared for by CLL hematologists and 536 were cared for by non-CLL hematologists. Among early stage patients(Rai 0-I), median TTFT(9.2 vs. 6.1 years; p<0.001) and OS(10.5 years vs. 8.8 years; p<0.001) were superior for patients cared for by CLL hematologists. For all patients, OS was superior for patients cared for by CLL hematologists(10.5 years vs. 8.4 years; p=0.001). Physician’s disease-specific expertise remained an independent predictor of OS after adjusting for age, stage, sex, and lymphocyte count. Patients seen by a CLL hematologist were also more likely participate in clinical trials(48% vs. 16%; p<0.001).
Physician disease-specific expertise appears to influence outcome in patients with CLL. To the greatest extent possible, patients should be cared for by a hematologist/oncologist expert in the care of their specific malignancy. When not possible, practice guidelines developed by disease-specific experts should be followed.
PMCID: PMC3893049  PMID: 22009554
chronic lymphocytic lymphoma(CLL); small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL); prognosis; physician expertise
Annals of epidemiology  2012;22(12):855-862.
To evaluate the association of body mass index (BMI) and physical activity (PA) during adulthood and at age 18 with risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
We enrolled 950 newly diagnosed NHL patients and 1146 frequency-matched clinic-based controls. Height, weight, and PA (recent adult and at age 18) were self-reported. Odds ratios (OR), 95% confidence intervals (CI), and tests for trend were estimated using unconditional logistic regression adjusted for age, gender, and residence.
BMI at age 18 was associated with an increased NHL risk (OR=1.38 for highest vs. lowest quartile, p-trend=0.0012), which on stratified analysis was specific to females (OR=1.90, p-trend=0.00025). There was no association of adult BMI with NHL risk. Higher physical activity in adulthood (OR=1.03, p-trend=0.85) or at age 18 (OR=0.88, 95%CI: 0.72–1.07) was not associated with risk, but there was an inverse association for adult physical activity that was specific to females (OR=0.71, p-trend=0.039). Only BMI at age 18 remained significantly associated with NHL risk when modeled together with adult or age 18 physical activity. There was little evidence for heterogeneity in these results for the common NHL subtypes.
Early adult BMI may be of greatest relevance to NHL risk, particularly in females.
PMCID: PMC3513768  PMID: 23146413
body mass index; exercise; lymphoma; non-Hodgkin; etiology; case-control studies
British journal of haematology  2012;159(5):572-576.
A recent meta-analysis of three genome-wide association studies of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) identified two common variants at the 6p21.31 locus that are associated with CLL risk. To verify and further explore the association of these variants with other non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) subtypes, we genotyped 1196 CLL cases, 1699 NHL cases, and 2410 controls. We found significant associations between the 6p21.31 variants and CLL risk (rs210134: P=0.01; rs210142: P=6.8×10−3). These variants also showed a trend towards association with some of the other NHL subtypes. Our results validate the prior work and support specific genetic pathways for risk among NHL subtypes.
PMCID: PMC3614403  PMID: 23025533
CLL; NHL; SNPs; BAK1; risk locus
British journal of haematology  2008;141(5):10.1111/j.1365-2141.2008.07070.x.
Patients with CLL have a variable clinical course. Identification of modifiable characteristics related to CLL-specific survival may provide opportunities for therapeutic intervention. The absolute number of T-cell and natural kill(NK)-cells was calculated for 166 consecutive patients with CLL evaluated by flow cytometry at Mayo Clinic <2 months of diagnosis. The size of the T-cell/NK-cell compartment relative to the size of the malignant monoclonal B-cell(MBC) compartment was evaluated by calculating NK:MBC and T:MBC ratios. Patients exhibited substantial variation in the absolute number of T and NK-cells as well as T:MBC and NK:MBC ratios at diagnosis. Higher T:MBC and NK:MBC ratios were observed among patients with early stage and mutated IgVH genes(all P<0.0003). As continuous variables, both T:MBC ratio(p value=0.03) and NK:MBC ratio(p value=0.02) were associated with time to treatment(TTT). On multivariate Cox modeling including stage, CD38, absolute MBC count, NK:MBC ratio, and T:MBC ratio, the independent predictors of TTT were stage, T:MBC ratio, and NK:MBC ratio. These findings suggest measurable characteristics of the host immune system relate to the rate of disease progression in patients with newly diagnosed CLL. These characteristics can be modified and continued evaluation of immunomodulatory drugs, vaccination strategies, and cellular therapies to delay/prevent disease progression are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3840945  PMID: 18384436
CLL; prognosis; immune system; T-cells; natural killer cells
Antioxidants, primarily from fruits and vegetables, have been hypothesized to protect against non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) assay, which measures total antioxidant capacity of individual foods and accounts for synergism, can be estimated using a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). We tested the hypothesis that higher intake of antioxidant nutrients from foods, supplements, and FFQ-based ORAC values are associated with a lower risk of NHL in a clinic-based study of 603 incident cases and 1007 frequency-matched controls. Diet was assessed with a 128-item FFQ. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals adjusted for age, sex, residence and total energy. Dietary intake of α-tocopherol (OR=0.50; p-trend=0.0002), β-carotene (OR=0.58; p-trend=0.0005), lutein/zeaxanthin (OR=0.62; p-trend=0.005), zinc (OR=0.54; p-trend=0.003) and chromium (OR=0.68; p-trend=0.032) were inversely associated with NHL risk. Inclusion of supplement use had little impact on these associations. Total vegetables (OR=0.52; p-trend<0.0001), particularly green leafy (OR=0.52; p-trend<0.0001) and cruciferous (OR=0.68; p-trend=0.045) vegetables, were inversely associated with NHL risk. NHL risk was inversely associated with both hydrophilic ORAC (OR=0.61, p-trend=0.003) and lipophilic ORAC (OR=0.48, p-trend=0.0002), although after simultaneous adjustment for other antioxidants or total vegetables only the association for lipophilic ORAC remained significant. There was no striking heterogeneity in results across the common NHL subtypes. Higher antioxidant intake as estimated by the FFQ-ORAC, particularly the lipophilic component, was associated with a lower NHL risk after accounting for other antioxidant nutrients and vegetable intake, supporting this as potentially useful summary measure of total antioxidant intake.
PMCID: PMC3306533  PMID: 22038870
Diet; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; vegetables; antioxidants; ORAC
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2012;23(7):1017-1029.
It has been hypothesized that vitamin D mediates the inverse relationship between sun exposure and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) risk reported in several recent studies. We evaluated the association of self-reported sun exposure at ages <13, 13–21, 22–40, and 41+ years and 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 4 candidate genes relevant to vitamin D metabolism (RXR, VDR, CYP24A1, CYP27B1) with NHL risk.
This analysis included 1,009 newly diagnosed NHL cases and 1,233 frequency-matched controls from an ongoing clinic-based study. Odds ratios (OR), 95 % confidence intervals (CI), and tests for trend were estimated using unconditional logistic regression.
There was a significant decrease in NHL risk with increased sun exposure at ages 13–21 years (OR≥15 vs. ≤3 h/week = 0.68; 95 % CI, 0.43–1.08; ptrend = 0.0025), which attenuated for older ages at exposure. We observed significant main effect associations for 3 SNPs in VDR and 1 SNP in CYP24A1: rs886441 (ORper-allele = 0.82; 95 % CI, 0.70–0.96; p = 0.016), rs3819545 (ORper-allele = 1.24; 95 % CI, 1.10–1.40; p = 0.00043), and rs2239186 (ORper-allele = 1.22; 95 % CI, 1.05–1.41; p = 0.0095) for VDR and rs2762939 (ORper-allele = 0.85; 95 % CI, 0.75–0.98; p = 0.023) for CYP24A1. Moreover, the effect of sun exposure at age 13–21 years on overall NHL risk appears to be modified by germline variation in VDR (rs4516035; pinteraction = 0.0066). Exploratory analysis indicated potential heterogeneity of these associations by NHL subtype.
These results suggest that germline genetic variation in VDR, and therefore the vitamin D pathway, may mediate an association between early life sun exposure and NHL risk.
PMCID: PMC3589750  PMID: 22544453
Ultraviolet radiation; Vitamin D; VDR; Molecular epidemiology; Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Leukemia & lymphoma  2010;51(4):620-627.
Treatment of autoimmune cytopenia complicating progressive chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is constrained by intolerance of myelosuppression and the risk of exacerbation of autoimmune cytopenia by purine analogs particularly when used as single agents. We report on 20 such patients treated with rituximab, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CVP). Autoimmune cytopenia responded in 19 patients (14 complete remissions (CR), five partial remissions (PR)) with a median time to next treatment (TTT) for autoimmune cytopenia of 21.7 months. Progressive CLL responded in 17 patients (nine CR/complete clinical response, eight PR) with a median TTT of 27.7 months. Five patients have not required any re-treatment at 15–30 months. Grade 3–4 toxicities were infections (n = 3) and drug-induced pneumonitis (n = 1). No patient required blood cell transfusions after cycle 1 of therapy. We conclude that R-CVP is effective and tolerable therapy for autoimmune cytopenia complicating progressive CLL, but the duration of response is suboptimal.
PMCID: PMC3448550  PMID: 20302386
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; autoimmune hemolytic anemia; immune thrombocytopenia; pure red blood cell aplasia; therapy
Leukemia & lymphoma  2011;53(2):211-217.
CpG oligonucleotide 7909 (CpG 7909, PF-03512676), a synthetic 24mer single stranded agonist of TLR9 expressed by B cells and plasmacytoid dendritic cells, is immunomodulatory and can cause activation-induced death of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells. We report a phase I study of CpG 7909 in 41 patients with early relapsed CLL. A single intravenous dose of CpG 7909 was well tolerated with no clinical effects and no significant toxicity up to 1.05 mg/kg. Single dose subcutaneous CpG 7909 had a maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of 0.45 mg/kg with dose limiting toxicity of myalgia and constitutional effects. Multiple weekly subcutaneous doses at the MTD were well tolerated. CpG 7909 administration induced immunologic changes in CLL and non-malignant cells that were dose and route dependent. We conclude that multidose therapy with subcutaneous CpG 7909 (0.45 mg/kg) could be used in future phase II combination clinical trials for CLL.
PMCID: PMC3438221  PMID: 21812536
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; CLL; CpG oligonucleotide 7909; PF-03512676; CpG 2006; TLR9

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