Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is a therapeutic modality with a curative potential for chronic granulocytic leukemia. Approximately 20% of patients have a hematologic relapse after BMT. The frequency of cytogenetic or molecular relapse (or both), despite hematologic remission, is reportedly higher. We performed allogeneic BMT in 32 patients with chronic granulocytic leukemia by using unmanipulated donor marrow and a conditioning regimen that consisted of cyclophosphamide and total-body irradiation. Of these 32 patients, 23 had cytogenetic studies after BMT. Seven of these patients had cytogenetically detectable Philadelphia chromosomes some time after BMT, during hematologic remission. The Philadelphia chromosome was detected transiently in two patients, and the fraction of abnormal metaphases exceeded 25% in three patients. None of the patients with negative results of cytogenetic studies or with the presence of the Philadelphia chromosome in less than 25% of analyzed metaphases had a clinical relapse, whereas two of the three patients with more than 25% abnormal metaphases had clinical relapses. Our results suggest that the detection of more than 25% abnormal metaphases during cytogenetic studies for chronic granulocytic leukemia after BMT may imply an incipient clinical relapse. We review the current literature that discusses isolated cytogenetic or molecular relapses of chronic granulocytic leukemia after BMT.
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