Splenic irradiation before bone marrow transplantation for chronic myeloid leukaemia

A. Gratwohl, J. Hermans, A. V. Biezen, W. Arcese, L. Debusscher, P. Ernst, A. Ferrant, F. Frassoni, G. Gahrton, A. Iriondo, H. J. Kolb, H. Link, D. Niederwieser, T. Ruutu, A. Schattenberg, N. Schmitz, W. Siegert, A. Torres-Gomez, J. P. Vernant, F. E. ZwaanJ. Apperley

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13 Scopus citations


A total of 229 patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in chronic phase were randomized between 1986 and 1990 to receive or not receive additional splenic irradiation as part of their conditioning prior to bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Both groups, 115 patients with and 114 patients without splenic irradiation, were very similar regarding distribution of age, sex, donor/recipient sex combination, conditioning, graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) prevention method and blood counts at diagnosis or prior to transplant, 135 patients (59%) are alive as of October 1995 with a minimum follow-up of 5 years. 52 patients have relapsed (23%), 26 patients in the irradiated, 26 patients in the non-irradiated group (n.s.) with a relapse incidence at 6 years of 28%. The main risk factor for relapse was T-cell depletion as the method for GvHD prevention, and an elevated basophil count in the peripheral blood prior to transplant. Relapse incidence between patients with or without splenic irradiation was no different in patients at high risk for relapse, e.g. patients transplanted with T-cell-depleted marrows (P = n.s.) and in patients with low risk for relapse, e.g, patients transplanted with non-T-cell-depleted transplants and basophil counts <3% prior to transplant (P = n.s.). However, relapse incidence differed significantly in patients with non-T-cell-depleted transplants and high basophil counts (> 3% basophils in peripheral blood), In this patient group, relapse incidence was 11% at 6 years with splenic irradiation but 32% in the non-irradiated group (P=0.05). Transplant-related mortality was similar whether patients received splenic irradiation or not. This study suggests an advantage in splenic irradiation prior to transplantation for CML in this subgroup of patients and illustrates the need for tailored therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-500
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia
  • Relapse
  • Splenic irradiation


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