Plasma cell leukemia (PCL) is a rare hematologic malignancy with aggressive clinical and biologic features. Data regarding its prognosis with the use of the novel agents, i.e., the immunomodulatory drugs thalidomide and lenalidomide, and the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib, are limited. We retrospectively reviewed clinical outcomes, response to therapy, and survival of 17 patients seen at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute since the availability of novel agents (2006-2011). Twelve patients had primary PCL (pPCL), and 5 secondary PCL (sPCL). PCL was associated with aggressive clinicobiological features, such as high-risk cytogenetics, elevated serum beta-2-microglobulin and lactate dehydrogenase, International Staging System stage III, and rapid relapse after therapy. With the use of thalidomide, lenalidomide, and bortezomib in 53%, 53%, and 88% patients, respectively, median overall survival (OS) was 18 months in the whole group (95% confidence interval, 11-21 months), and 21 and 4 months in pPCL and sPCL, respectively (P=0.015). OS was inferior to that of 313 consecutive patients with multiple myeloma (MM) treated in the same period, even when compared with a subset of 47 MM with high-risk cytogenetics. Although our data are limited by the small sample size, we conclude that novel agents may modestly improve survival in patients with PCL, when compared to historical controls. Novel therapies do not seem to overcome the negative prognosis of PCL as compared with MM.
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