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Denise Brock

ASH 2016 Recap #1- Long Term Follow-up with Ibrutinib in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patients

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 Patient News
from the American Society of Hematology (ASH)
Annual Meeting 2016
Presented by the
Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education

GRACE is pleased to present a series of webcasts with faculty member John Pagel, MD, PhD, DSc, from Swedish Cancer Institute. Dr. Pagel was one of many to attend the American Society of Hematology’s Annual Meeting (ASH) in early December 2016 and graciously sat down with GRACE to recap highlights from the meeting.  Please enjoy our first video in this series, discussing long-term follow-up with ibrutinib in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients.    

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Please feel free to offer comments and raise questions in our Discussion Forums.

View/download transcripts here.  


This is John Pagel, MD.  I am going to now give an update on some of the newer agents for chronic lymphocytic leukemia that were discussed and presented at the American Society for Hematology meeting in December in San Diego, California. 

Of course, this is the largest meeting on agents that are in development for use for patients with blood cancers and, in particular, I am focusing here on chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL. 

We certainly know that one of the most important drugs that we have had in the last couple of years has been a drug well known as ibrutinib.  Ibrutinib has been one of those game changer drugs, paradigm shifting drugs, such that it has evolved away from extensive use of chemotherapy in many patients, perhaps older patients who would not tolerate them very well, and we had a presentation at ASH. 

The meeting showed an update on the longest trial ever done on ibrutinib.  This is five-year follow-up data with many patients who were remaining on the drug.  A very important study led by Susan O’Brian and her colleagues, which showed that many people could stay on the drug, ibrutinib, for a very prolonged period of time.  Again, there are some people that have now been on the drug for many years and are tolerating it extremely well.  There has always been a question if this agent would hold up over time and be able to be something that people could remain on without any difficulties. 

Now not everybody, of course, is able to remain on the drug.  We do know that some people will have to come off therapy because of some intolerance.  Typically, that might be arthralgias, which are aches or pains of muscles or joints.  We do know that sometimes bleeding can be a slight issue or even a rapid or abnormal heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation but those things are very, very rare and, in fact, the vast majority of patients can do extremely well with the drug for a long period of time and, in particular, the small number of people who were on this initial study who were put on ibrutinib as their first line treatment. 

People were able to stay on the drug for a long period of time and, again, five-year follow-up data is extremely encouraging with the vast majority of patients not relapsing and patients remaining alive, doing well and having excellent control of their chronic lymphocytic leukemia.


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