Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia: Focus on Clinical Practice

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Abstract

Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) is a clonal stem cell disorder with features that overlap those of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia often results in peripheral blood monocytosis and has an inherent tendency to transform to acute myeloid leukemia. Clonal cytogenetic changes are seen in approximately 30% of patients, and molecular abnormalities are seen in more than 90%. Gene mutations involving TET2 (˜60%), SRSF2 (˜50%), ASXL1 (˜40%), and RAS (˜30%) are frequent, with nonsense and frameshift ASXL1 mutations being the only mutations identified thus far to have an independent negative prognostic effect on overall survival. Contemporary molecularly integrated prognostic models (inclusive of ASXL1 mutations) include the Molecular Mayo Model and the Groupe Français des Myélodysplasies model. Given the lack of formal treatment and response criteria, management of CMML is often extrapolated from MDS and MPN, with allogeneic stem cell transplant being the only curative option. Hydroxyurea and other cytoreductive agents have been used to control MPN-like features, while epigenetic modifiers such as hypomethylating agents have been used for MDS-like features. Given the relatively poor response to these agents and the inherent risks associated with hematopoietic stem cell transplant, newer drugs exploiting molecular and epigenetic abnormalities in CMML are being developed. The creation of CMML-specific response criteria is a much needed step in order to improve clinical outcomes.

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