Ibrutinib represents extraordinary progress in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). However, treatment-related adverse events limit the benefit of this agent. This obser-vational, multicenter study focused on the incidence, risk factors, and prognostic impact of infections in 494 patients with CLL treated with an ibrutinib-based treatment. Ibrutinib was given to 89 (18%) previously untreated patients (combined with rituximab, 24) and 405 (82%) relapsed/refractory patients. Pneumonia (PN), grade ≥3 non-opportunistic infections (NOI), and opportunistic infections (OI) were recorded in 32% of patients with an overall incidence rate per 100 person-year of 15.3% (PN, 10%; NOI, 3.3%; OI, 2%). Infections were the reason for the permanent discontinuation of ibrutinib in 9% of patients. Patients who experienced pneumonia or a severe infection showed a significantly inferior survival than those who were infection-free (p < 0.0001). A scoring system based on the three factors associated with a significant and independent impact on infections—PN or severe infection in the year before starting ibrutinib, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ≥2 prior treatments—identified patients with a two-to threefold increase in the rate of infections. In conclusion, the results of this study highlight the adverse impact of infectious events on the outcomes of CLL patients treated with ibrutinib.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia