Blood, 1995; 85 (9) doi:
Affiliation: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, United States
Sample size: 346
Abstract: We studied 346 patients after bone marrow transplantation (BMT) for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) for the presence of the bcr-abl transcript detected by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to understand the frequency and implication of a positive test. A total of 634 samples of BM and/or peripheral blood were obtained for PCR analysis between 3 and 192 months after BMT. A positive PCR test at 3 months post-BMT was not statistically significantly associated with an increased risk of relapse compared with PCR-negative patients. However, a positive PCR assay at 6 months and beyond was highly associated with subsequent relapse. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of relapse for patients testing PCR-positive at 6 to 12 months was 42% versus 3% for PCR-negative patients (P < .0001). The Kaplan-Meier estimate of survival at 4 years for the PCR-positive patients was 74% compared with 83% for the PCR-negative group (P = .002). Multivariable analysis indicated that a PCR-positive result at 6 to 12 months post-BMT, the type of BMT donor (allogeneic matched donor v mismatched or unrelated), and the presence of acute GVHD were independent risk factors for subsequent relapse. The relative risk (RR) for relapse for patients PCR-positive at 6 to 12 months post-BMT was 26.1 (95% confidence interval, 8.9 to 76.1, P < .0001). The outcome of long-term patients (> 36 months post-BMT) who tested PCR-positive was much better, as 15 of 59 (25%) tested positive for bcr-abl, but only one patient relapsed. There was a 91% concordance between PCR tests of simultaneously obtained BM and peripheral blood. These analyses show that the PCR assay of the bcr-abl fusion transcript 6 to 12 months post-BMT is an independent predictor of subsequent relapse which provides an opportunity for early therapeutic intervention.
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