Although interferon was the first drug with significant activity in HCL patients, long-term studies are limited because of the subsequent introduction of the purine nucloeosides. Ratain et al.11 reported on 69 patients who received alpha interferon, and noted a 91% survival at 4 years. However, the median time for a patient requiring treatment (usually due to cytopenia) was 25.4 months. Federico et al.21 followed 166 patients who received interferon therapy, and reported a 96% survival at 5 years, with most patients progressing by 4 years. Grever described that 12 of 17 patients who were in complete remission after interferon therapy relapsed with a median time of 20 months. Median survival had not been reached at a median follow-up of 57 months. Thus, although the disease is not eradicated, survival appears improved over splenectomy.

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