Some patients still have leukemia cells in their bone marrow after CLL treatment. This is called refractory leukemia. Some patients have a return of CLL cells in the marrow and a decrease in normal blood cells after remission. This is called a relapse.
The following are treatments for patients with refractory and relapsed CLL. For more information, access the free booklet, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.
- Ibrutinib (ImbruvicaTM)
- Idelalisib (Zydelig®)
- Ofatumumab (Arzerra®)
- Venetoclax (Venclexta®)
For information about the drugs mentioned on this page, visit Drug Listings.
The term refractory leukemia is used to describe CLL that doesn't result in a remission (but may be stable) or that gets worse within six months of the last treatment. Most people treated for refractory CLL often have good-quality years of remission after more treatment.
However, some patients don't respond to the standard CLL chemotherapy treatment. These include patients whose:
- Disease progressed quickly despite treatment
- CLL cells have a deletion in the short arm of chromosome 17 (17p-)
If you fall into either of the above two categories, talk with your doctor about whether taking part in a clinical trial is a option for you. New drug therapies or stem cell transplantation may offer appropriate treatment options.
"Relapsed CLL" is the term for disease that responded to therapy but, after six or more months, stopped responding. Treatment guidelines for people with relapsed CLL are generally the same as treatment for newly diagnosed people. Most people treated for relapsed CLL often have good-quality years of remission after more treatment.