Karyotypes of 21 patients, originally entered into the Third International Workshop on Chromosomes in Leukemia (3IWCL), were investigated in first, second and/or subsequent relapses. Karyotypes at diagnosis were related to the relapses in the following ways: normal to normal (N-N) (five cases); abnormal to normal (A-N) (two cases); abnormal to abnormal with no change (A-A) (five cases); abnormal to abnormal with clonal evolution (A-A+) (eight cases); and normal to abnormal (N-A) (one case). The A-A group comprised two each of t(4;11) and t(9;22) cases and one pseudodiploid case; included in this group were the only two patients who did not receive intensive treatment. Both A-N cases had been pseudodiploid at diagnosis. Clonal evolution A-A+ occurred in patients who had had 47-49 chromosomes or pseudodiploidy at diagnosis and was mainly due to the addition of structural change. The additional abnormalities were different in each case. The only de novo appearance of a clone (N-A) was in host cells in relapse following bone marrow transplantation. Clonal evolution occurred in patients who had been intensively treated and who relapsed late; the median time from diagnosis to relapse studied for the A-A group was 6 months and for the A-A+ group was 24 months. Survival following relapse was shorter for patients who had had a clonal abnormality at any time (median 10 months) than for those with no abnormality at diagnosis or in relapse (median 26 months).
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