Cytogenetic clonal evolution (CE) is a known poor prognostic factor in Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (Ph-positive CML). However, its prognostic relevance in the era of imatinib therapy is unknown. We investigated the independent prognostic relevance of CE in 498 patients with Ph-positive CML treated with imatinib for chronic or accelerated phases. One hundred twenty-one patients had CE alone (n = 70) or with other accelerated phase criteria (n = 51). Patients were compared in 4 categories: chronic phase (n = 295), CE only (n = 70), accelerated phase without CE (n = 82), and accelerated phase with CE (n = 51). Statistical methods used established methodologies for univariate and multivariate analyses. In chronic and accelerated phases of CML, CE was not associated with significant differences in major or complete cytogenetic response rates, but it was an independent poor prognostic factor for survival by multivariate analyses in both chronic (P = .005) and accelerated phase (P = .03). Multivariate analyses conducted at the 3-month landmark (including the 3-month cytogenetic response) identified the lack of cytogenetic response at 3 months to be a stronger independent poor prognostic factor for survival than CE for both chronic (major cytogenetic response versus other) and accelerated phase (any cytogenetic response versus other). We conclude that cytogenetic CE is not an important factor for achieving major or complete cytogenetic response with imatinib mesylate therapy, but it is an independent poor prognostic factor for survival in both chronic and accelerated phases of CML. The 3-month cytogenetic response to imatinib mesylate refined the prognostic relevance of such studies in patients on imatinib mesylate therapy.
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