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Plasma Cell Leukaemia Infosheet

This Infosheet explains what plasma cell leukaemia is, how it is diagnosed, and how it can be treated and managed.

There are two types of Plasma Cell Leukaemia:

  • Primary PCL – diagnosed in patients with no history of myeloma
  • Secondary PCL – occurs after a previous myeloma diagnosis and arises when myeloma progresses to PCL.

PCL is rare. It is estimated that 1 per million of the general population are diagnosed with primary PCL each year, while
approximately 1 in 100 myeloma patients will go on to develop secondary PCL.

At present, little is understood about the genetic differences between myeloma and PCL and there is no way of predicting which myeloma patients will progress to PCL.

Symptoms and complications include:

  • Anaemia
  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Recurrent infections
  • Bleeding
  • Hypercalcaemia (high blood calcium levels)
  • Kidney damage

The infosheet details how Plasma Cell Leukaemia is diagnosed, and how it can be treated and managed.

It is hoped the development of novel treatments for myeloma will also benefit PCL patients. Newer drugs such as carfilzomib (Kyprolis®) and pomalidomide (Imnovid®), and drugs with entirely new mechanisms of action such
as daratumumab, have been shown to be eff ective in myeloma patients who no longer respond to bortezomib and lenalidomide and could therefore also provide new treatment options for PCL patients.