Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: A Case Report and Review of the Literature.


Department of Neurology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA [Email]


Leptomeningeal disease is a rare complication of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). We report a case of leptomeningeal disease in CLL with a complete clinical response and clearance of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) after treatment with ibrutinib and intrathecal rituximab. In a comprehensive review of the published literature since 1976, we found 136 cases of CLL with leptomeningeal spread. We found that leptomeningeal disease in patients with CLL responds favorably to treatment in most cases and is associated with longer overall survival than is expected for other cancers. Clearance of CSF is associated with improved survival. Treatment with rituximab and ibrutinib is more frequently associated with complete response compared with older agents. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The incidence of leptomeningeal CLL is more common than previously described and can be recognized by attention to certain symptoms and signs. This case presentation and literature review reveals that, in many cases, leptomeningeal lymphomatosis is reversible with the use of rituximab and ibrutinib. The authors show a survival benefit associated with treating to cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) clearance by cytology and compare outcomes with various treatment strategies, focusing on novel agents. Now that there is effective therapy for leptomeningeal lymphoma in CLL, the importance for oncologists to recognize this neurologic complication has become clear.


CLL,chronic lymphocytic leukemia,leptomeningeal carcinomatosis,

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