Recently, considerable progress has been made in the identification of molecular and cellular markers that may predict the tendency for disease progression in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or detect minimal residual disease after therapy. These developments have created uncertainty for clinicians who hope to incorporate the use of these markers and new disease-assessment tools into standard clinical practice. However, clinical trials are required to determine whether poor-prognosis leukemia-cell markers, such as expression of unmutated immunoglobulin genes or the zeta-associated protein of 70 kDa (ZAP-70), can be used as the basis for determining the time or type of therapy. Pending the outcome of such trials, treatment decisions outside the context of a clinical trial still should be based on guidelines established by the most recent National Cancer Institute-sponsored Working Group.
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