Early molecular response in East African Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukaemia patients treated with Imatinib and barriers to access treatment

18 Aug 2020
Oliver Henke, Priscus John Mapendo, Elifuraha Wilson Mkwizu, Philipp le Coutre

Background: Data about haematologic malignancies from Tanzania are sparse. African studies show that chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is the most common leukaemia, and registry data display a lower mean age at diagnosis. Prognosis is generally good with tyrosine kinase inhibitors, but the molecular response of Imatinib treatment has never been studied in East Africa, and the outcome remains unknown. This study assessed the early molecular response (MR) as a predictor for long-term outcome and barriers to access treatment.

Methods: A case series of patients with CML from Northern Tanzania documented demographics and laboratory and clinical findings at diagnosis and after 3 months. The regression analysis has been performed on early MR and clinical and demographic variables using the χ2-test. The barriers of potential treatments have been assessed.

Results: A total of 30 patients have been analysed. The mean age was 41 years. All patients had splenomegaly, whereas 16 had hepatomegaly. Complete haematologic response was achieved in 16 and early MR in 9 patients. Hepatomegaly was positively correlated with unfavourable early MR. The average kilometre from home to hospital was 282 km (5–1,158 km). Travel expenses and time investments pose an impediment to treatment.

Conclusion: Patients are younger, and early MR rates are lower compared to other studies. The finding of hepatomegaly as a risk factor for unfavourable early MR was described previously in West Africa. Adherence to therapy is high in the first months of treatment. Furthermore, research is needed to understand the poor MR and the common presentation of hepatomegaly. Outreach clinics might be a solution to reduce impediments to treatment.