Clinical characteristics and outcomes of Richter transformation: Experience of 204 patients from a single center

Yucai Wang, Marcella A. Tschautscher, Kari G. Rabe, Timothy G. Call, Jose F. Leis, Saad S. Kenderian, Neil E. Kay, Eli Muchtar, Daniel L. van Dyke, Amber B. Koehler, Susan M. Schwager, Susan L. Slager, Sameer A. Parikh, Wei Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The natural history, prognostication and optimal treatment of Richter transformation developed from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) are not well defined. We report the clinical characteristics and outcomes of a large series of biopsy-confirmed Richter transformation (diffuse large B-cell lymphoma or high grade B-cell lymphoma, n=204) cases diagnosed from 1993 to 2018. After a median follow up of 67.0 months, the median overall survival (OS) was 12.0 months. Patients who received no prior treatment for CLL had significantly better OS (median 46.3 vs. 7.8 months; P<0.001). Patients with elevated lactate dehydrogenase (median 6.2 vs. 39.9 months; P<0.0001) or TP53 disruption (median 8.3 vs. 12.8 months; P=0.046) had worse OS than those without. Immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region gene mutation, cell of origin, Myc/Bcl-2 double expression and MYC/BCL2/BCL6 double-/triple-hit status were not associated with OS. In multivariable Cox regression, elevated lactate dehydrogenase [Hazard ratio (HR) 2.3, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.3-4.1; P=0.01], prior CLL treatment (HR 2.0, 95%CI: 1.2-3.5; P=0.01), and older age (HR 1.03, 95%CI: 1.01-1.05; P=0.01) were associated with worse OS. Twentyfour (12%) patients underwent stem cell transplant (20 autologous and 4 allogeneic), and had a median post-transplant survival of 55.4 months. In conclusion, the overall outcome of Richter transformation is poor. Richter transformation developed in patients with untreated CLL has significantly better survival. Stem cell transplant may benefit select patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-773
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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