Watch and Wait in Lebanese Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patients: How Relevant is it?


Background: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most frequent form of leukemia in Europe and North America, and it mainly affects older individuals. Many approaches are implemented in the management of CLL from a watch and wait (W&W) strategy to chemotherapeutic regimens. We here reviewed our clinical practice for the relevance of the W&W strategy in Lebanese CLL patients. Materials and
Methods: A total of 95 patients with CLL diagnosed in four institutions in Lebanon, between 1992 and 2013, were selected and their files were reviewed. Characteristics of these patients were noted including age, sex, RAI and Binet scores, CBC values, presence of hepatomegaly or splenomegaly, performance of bone marrow biopsy or peripheral blood flux cytometry for diagnosis, adoption of W&W strategy, different chemotherapeutic regimens and the indications for treatment.
Results: Some 38 patients (40%) diagnosed with CLL were women and 57 (60%) were men with a mean age of 65.1 years [36-89]. Of the total, 50.5%, 17.2%, 14%, 7.5% and 10.8% had an RAI score at diagnosis of 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively, while 65.6%, 17.2% and 17.2% had Binet scores of I, II and III. The mean lymphocyte count at diagnosis was 39885/mm³ [1596-290000], the mean hemoglobin level was 12.7 g/dl [6.2-17] and the mean platelet count was 191255/mm³ [14000-458000]. While 26.3% of patients with CLL had splenomegaly, only 7.4% had hepatomegaly. Some 33.7% had undergone a bone marrow biopsy, 66.3% flow cytometry of circulating blood and 5.3% a lymph node biopsy. Overall, the W&W was adopted in 62.4% (58) of patients with a mean duration of 37.7 months [3-216]. The W&W was used in 82.6%, 73.3%, 46.2%, 14.3% and 0% of patients having RAI scores of 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively, and, it was used in 80%, 46.7% and 6.25% with Binet scores of I, II and III. The most frequent indication for treatment was anemia and thrombocytopenia, accounting for 32.7% of cases. The most frequently used chemotherapeutical regimens were chlorambucil until the end of the last century and flufarabine-cyclophosphamide-rituximab during the last decade.
Conclusions: This retrospective review of CLL clinical practice showed an important implementation of the W&W strategy with a long duration, especially in early stage cases with low RAI or Binet scores.