Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version

Recurrent or Refractory CLL

Clinical trials are appropriate and should be considered when possible.[1] In small studies, response rates of more than 40% have been reported for lenalidomide [2-4] and flavopiridol.[5,6][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] The addition of the Bcl-2 anti-sense oligonucleotide oblimersen to fludarabine/cyclophosphamide improved complete response rates in a randomized study of 241 patients with relapsed disease.[7][Level of evidence: 1iiDiv] Bone marrow and peripheral stem cell transplantations are under clinical evaluation.[8-14]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Byrd JC, Rai KR, Sausville EA, et al.: Old and new therapies in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: now is the time for a reassessment of therapeutic goals. Semin Oncol 25 (1): 65-74, 1998. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Chanan-Khan A, Miller KC, Musial L, et al.: Clinical efficacy of lenalidomide in patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia: results of a phase II study. J Clin Oncol 24 (34): 5343-9, 2006. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Ferrajoli A, Lee BN, Schlette EJ, et al.: Lenalidomide induces complete and partial remissions in patients with relapsed and refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Blood 111 (11): 5291-7, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Andritsos LA, Johnson AJ, Lozanski G, et al.: Higher doses of lenalidomide are associated with unacceptable toxicity including life-threatening tumor flare in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. J Clin Oncol 26 (15): 2519-25, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Byrd JC, Lin TS, Dalton JT, et al.: Flavopiridol administered using a pharmacologically derived schedule is associated with marked clinical efficacy in refractory, genetically high-risk chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Blood 109 (2): 399-404, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Lin TS, Ruppert AS, Johnson AJ, et al.: Phase II study of flavopiridol in relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia demonstrating high response rates in genetically high-risk disease. J Clin Oncol 27 (35): 6012-8, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. O'Brien S, Moore JO, Boyd TE, et al.: 5-year survival in patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia in a randomized, phase III trial of fludarabine plus cyclophosphamide with or without oblimersen. J Clin Oncol 27 (31): 5208-12, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Dreger P, Brand R, Milligan D, et al.: Reduced-intensity conditioning lowers treatment-related mortality of allogeneic stem cell transplantation for chronic lymphocytic leukemia: a population-matched analysis. Leukemia 19 (6): 1029-33, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Schetelig J, Thiede C, Bornhauser M, et al.: Evidence of a graft-versus-leukemia effect in chronic lymphocytic leukemia after reduced-intensity conditioning and allogeneic stem-cell transplantation: the Cooperative German Transplant Study Group. J Clin Oncol 21 (14): 2747-53, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Ritgen M, Stilgenbauer S, von Neuhoff N, et al.: Graft-versus-leukemia activity may overcome therapeutic resistance of chronic lymphocytic leukemia with unmutated immunoglobulin variable heavy-chain gene status: implications of minimal residual disease measurement with quantitative PCR. Blood 104 (8): 2600-2, 2004. [PUBMED Abstract]
  11. Moreno C, Villamor N, Colomer D, et al.: Allogeneic stem-cell transplantation may overcome the adverse prognosis of unmutated VH gene in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. J Clin Oncol 23 (15): 3433-8, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
  12. Khouri IF, Keating MJ, Saliba RM, et al.: Long-term follow-up of patients with CLL treated with allogeneic hematopoietic transplantation. Cytotherapy 4 (3): 217-21, 2002. [PUBMED Abstract]
  13. Doney KC, Chauncey T, Appelbaum FR, et al.: Allogeneic related donor hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Bone Marrow Transplant 29 (10): 817-23, 2002. [PUBMED Abstract]
  14. Pavletic SZ, Khouri IF, Haagenson M, et al.: Unrelated donor marrow transplantation for B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia after using myeloablative conditioning: results from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant research. J Clin Oncol 23 (24): 5788-94, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: April 2, 2015