Discontinuation of tyrosine kinase inhibitors in chronic myeloid leukemia: when and for whom?

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Treatment discontinuation is considered one of the main goals of therapy for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. Several criteria are felt to be necessary to consider discontinuation, while others may predict a better chance of achieving treatment-free remission. Criteria for discontinuation include patients in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia, a minimum duration of tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy of 3 years, sustained deep molecular response for at least 2 years and a molecular response of at least MR4. In addition, proper education of the patient on the need for more frequent monitoring, possible side effects related to stopping and having a reliable real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction laboratory are paramount to the safety and success of treatment-free remission. Realistically though, a maximum of only 20-30% of newly diagnosed patients will be able to achieve a successful treatment-free remission. In this article we will review for whom and when a trial of discontinuation should be considered.

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