Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy and hematologic malignancies: A single cancer center retrospective review

Elizabeth C. Neil, Lisa M. DeAngelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is an uncommon opportunistic infection with high morbidity and mortality. This is an institutional review board-approved retrospective review of medical records identified by diagnostic coding for PML or John Cunningham virus (JCV) from 2000 to 2015. Inclusion criteria were cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) positive for JCV by polymerase chain reaction or brain biopsy-proven PML in non-HIV patients. There were 16 patients, 12 of whom were men (75%); the median age was 56 years (range, 31-71 years). All had hematologic malignancies (5 [31%] had chronic lymphocytic leukemia, 3 [19%] had acute myeloid leukemia, 3 had [19%] mantle cell lymphoma, and 1 patient each had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma, or B-cell lymphoma). One patient received no cancer-directed therapy. Of the remaining 15 patients, all received conventional chemotherapy, and 9 (60%) underwent transplant. Thirteen patients (87%) received immunomodulating therapy (predominantly rituximab). The median time from cancer diagnosis to PML diagnosis was 48.5 months. PML was diagnosed a median of 2.1 months from symptom onset; however, the median time to PML diagnosis was 5.4 months for the 4 patients presenting with a cerebellar syndrome. PML was diagnosed by CSF in 12 patients and brain biopsy in 4 following negative CSF test results. Median survival from PML diagnosis was 4.3 months for the 11 patients on treatment and 0.87 months for the 5 without treatment. PML still occurs in patients with hematologic malignancies in the absence of treatment. Twenty-five percent of our patients required brain biopsy for diagnosis, and diagnosis was delayed when the clinical presentation was unusual, such as a cerebellar syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2041-2045
Number of pages5
JournalBlood Advances
Issue number23
StatePublished - Oct 24 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute (cancer center support grant P30 CA008748).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by The American Society of Hematology.


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