Despite therapeutic advances, relapsed/refractory CLL, particularly after fludarabine-based regimens, remains a major challenge for which optimal therapy is undefined. No randomized comparative data exist to suggest the superiority of reduced-toxicity allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (RT-allo-HCT) over conventional chemo-(immuno) therapy (CCIT). By using estimates from a systematic review and by meta-analysis of available published evidence, we constructed a Markov decision model to examine these competing modalities. Cohort analysis demonstrated superior outcome for RT-allo-HCT, with a 10-month overall life expectancy (and 6-month quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE)) advantage over CCIT. Although the model was sensitive to changes in base-case assumptions and transition probabilities, RT-allo-HCT provided superior overall life expectancy through a range of values supported by the meta-analysis. QALE was superior for RT-allo-HCT compared with CCIT. This conclusion was sensitive to change in the anticipated state utility associated with the post-allogeneic HCT state; however, RT-allo-HCT remained the optimal strategy for values supported by existing literature. This analysis provides a quantitative comparison of outcomes between RT-allo-HCT and CCIT for relapsed/refractory CLL in the absence of randomized comparative trials. Confirmation of these findings requires a prospective randomized trial, which compares the most effective RT-allo-HCT and CCIT regimens for relapsed/refractory CLL.
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