What is the role of surgery in the treatment of hairy cell leukemia (HCL)?

Updated: Sep 16, 2018
  • Author: Emmanuel C Besa, MD; Chief Editor: Koyamangalath Krishnan, MD, FRCP, FACP  more...
  • Print

Splenectomy was the first standard treatment modality for hairy cell leukemia and was used commonly in the past, but effective medical therapy has replaced splenectomy as the first-line treatment. Splenectomy is currently reserved for patients whose conditions fail to respond to systemic therapy or for those with bleeding from thrombocytopenia. Splenic size does not predict response to splenectomy. Patients undergoing splenectomy require appropriate vaccination.

Laparoscopic splenectomy has decreased the morbidity and duration of the postsurgical recovery period.

Although splenectomy does not produce pathologic remissions in the bone marrow, the peripheral blood cell counts improve in all three cell lines in approximately 40-70% of patients. This response occurs rapidly and usually lasts for a median of 20 months in approximately two thirds of patients, with an overall 5-year survival rate of 70%.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!