Philadelphia Chromosome-Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Is Separated into Two Subgroups Associated with Survival byBCR-ABLFluorescence in situ Hybridization of Segmented Cell Nuclei: Report from a Single Institution

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Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may include the lymphoid blast crisis of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML-BC). We applied fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) of the BCR-ABL fusion gene to peripheral blood and/or bone marrow smears to determine whether the fusion was restricted to mononuclear cell nuclei or if segmented cell nuclei representing mature neutrophils also carried the fusion (Seg-FISH). Among 20 patients with Ph+ ALL without a prior diagnosis of CML, 9 were Seg-FISH+ and 11 were Seg-FISH-. Seg-FISH+ cases were characterized by a higher rate of p210-type BCR-ABL transcripts, higher white cell and blast counts, and a higher rate of myeloid and T-lymphoid antigen expression than Seg-FISH- cases, in addition to ‘major route’ cytogenetic abnormalities associated with CML-BC. Eighteen patients were treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) either alone or in combination with multiagent chemotherapy, and 7 underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Progression-free and overall survivals were greater in the Seg-FISH+ group than in the Seg-FISH- group. These results suggest that the Seg-FISH+ group represents lymphoid CML-BC that occurs de novo, while the Seg-FISH- represents Ph+ ALL in the strict sense, and the two groups are associated with survival when treated with TKIs or TKI-combined therapy.

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