Background: Epidemiological and clinical information on primary plasma cell leukemia (pPCL) are rarely reported. The aims are to evaluate the clinical features, prognostic factors, and efficacy of treatments in pPCL. Patients and methods: A multicenter retrospective cohort study was carried out from January 2000 to December 2008 in 26 Italian hematology divisions. A total of 128 cases of plasma cell leukemia were collected, and 73 of them (57%) were classified as primary (male/female 43/30). Results: Sixty-four patients had at least 1 sign of end-organ damage and 10 had extramedullary localization. One patient died early; of the remaining patients, 36 (50%) received anthracycline-based regimens as first-line therapy, 17 (24%) single alkylating agents, and 30 (42%) bortezomib or thalidomide as additional (n = 11) or unique treatments (n = 19). Twenty-three patients (31%) underwent autologous and/or allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The median overall survival (OS) was 12.6 months; complete or partial response was achieved in 22 (30%) and 18 patients (25%), respectively; the median duration of response (DOR) was 16.4 months. HSCT patients had a longer OS and DOR (median 38.1 and 25.8 months, respectively) compared with nontransplanted patients (9.1 and 7.3 months, respectively, P < 0.001). OS was influenced by nonresponse to treatment, hypoalbuminemia, and HSCT. DOR was favorably influenced only by HSCT. Conclusions: pPCL is an aggressive disease with a poor prognosis and a low response rate to conventional therapy. HSCT is effective, increasing OS and DOR by 69% and 88%, respectively. The use of bortezomib and thalidomide may improve outcomes. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society for Medical Oncology. All rights reserved.
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