Chronic granulocytic leukaemia: effect of elective splenectomy on the course of disease.
Spiers AS., Baikie AF., Galton DA., Richards HG., Wiltshaw E., Goldman JM., Catovsky D., Spencer J., Peto R.
Conventional treatment by drugs or irradiation produces little prolongation of life in patients with chronic granulocytic leukaemia (C.G.L.) because the onset of metamorphosis of the disease from a chronic to an acute or subacute leukaemic process is not substantially postponed. Isolated clinical observations as well as both cytogenetic and cytokinetic evidence suggest that the spleen may play a special though not exclusive role in the development of undifferentiated cell clones which lead to metamorphosis of C.G.L. The results of a study of elective splenectomy during the chronic phase of the disease are reported. Twenty-six patients with C.G.L. underwent splenectomy during clinical remission of their disease, and there were no deaths after the operation. Twenty-one patients were alive at the time of writing, two of them eight years after splenectomy. Five cases of metamorphosis of C.G.L. to a refractory phase occurred whereas 10 would have been expected, a significant difference. After the onset of metamorphosis the quality of life was better in splenectomized than in non-splenectomized patients. These results show that splenectomy is a reasonable and safe procedure in C.G.L., and its apparently beneficial effects on prognosis justify a larger controlled clinical trial.