Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia with symptomatic diffuse central nervous system infiltration responding to therapy with systemic fludarabine
B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is an indolent disease characterized by the insidious accumulation of small mature-appearing lymphocytes in the peripheral blood, bone marrow and lymphoid tissues. Direct symptomatic invasion of the central nervous system is exceedingly rare and, to our knowledge, only three cases histologically confirmed as true chronic lymphocytic leukaemia have been reported in the literature. We describe the first case of early Rai stage B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia presenting with symptomatic infiltration of the brain and spinal cord which could be demonstrated radiographically by magnetic resonance imaging. The diagnosis was confirmed by examination of peripheral blood, cerebrospinal fluid, brain and bone marrow biopsies, both morphologically and immunophenotypically by means of flow cytometric analysis. The patient demonstrated a complete response to therapy with standard-dose systemic fludarabine and remains in complete remission 6 months after completion of therapy.