BACKGROUND: B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (BCLL) in dogs generally is considered an indolent disease, but previous studies indicate a wide range in survival times.
OBJECTIVES: We hypothesized that BCLL has a heterogeneous clinical course, similar to chronic lymphocytic leukemia in humans. We aimed to assess presentation and outcome in dogs with BCLL and evaluate the prognostic relevance of clinical and flow cytometric factors.
ANIMALS: One hundred and twenty-one dogs with BCLL diagnosed by flow cytometry. Three breed groups were represented: small breed dogs (n = 55) because of increased risk of BCLL; Boxers (n = 33) because of preferential use of unmutated immunoglobulin genes; and other breeds (n = 33).
METHODS: Retrospective study reviewing signalment, clinicopathologic data, physical examination findings, treatment, and survival of dogs with BCLL. Cellular proliferation, determined by the percentage of Ki67-expressing CD21+ B-cells by flow cytometry, was measured in 39 of 121 cases. Clinical and laboratory variables were evaluated for association with survival.
RESULTS: The median survival time (MST) for all cases was 300 days (range, 1-1644 days). Boxers had significantly shorter survival (MST, 178 days) than non-Boxers (MST, 423 days; P < .0001), and no significant survival difference was found between small breeds and other non-Boxer breeds. Cases with high Ki67 (>40% Ki67-expressing B-cells) had significantly shorter survival (MST, 173 days) than did cases with <40% Ki67 (MST undetermined; P = .03), regardless of breed. Cases with a high lymphocyte count (>60 000 lymphocytes/μL) or clinical signs at presentation had significantly shorter survival.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia had a variable clinical course and Boxer dogs and cases with high Ki67 had more aggressive disease.