Blast phase (BP) may occur as a late event in essential thrombocythemia (ET). This study includes 19 patients with post-ET BP diagnosed and followed in a single institution. At BP, 63% of patients had leukocytosis (white blood cell count >10 x 10(9)/L), 74% had anemia (hemoglobin value <10 g/dL), 74% had thrombocytopenia (platelet count <100 x 10(9)/L), and 84% were over 65 years of age. Cytogenetic analysis was available in 10 patients: six had karyotype aberrations. According to cytogenetic-based risk stratification of de novo acute leukemia (AL), all patients had an unfavorable profile. JAK2 (V617F) mutational status was evaluated in five patients. In two of them, the JAK2 mutation was undetectable in blast cells (one with JAK2-positive ET), whereas in three both granulocytes and blast cells displayed the mutation. Treatment of BP was patient-based according to the performance status and co-morbidities and consisted of palliation in 14 patients, and of induction of remission in five. Median survival was 2.3 months (range 0.2-22.3), irrespective of the treatment received. In conclusion, this study indicates that AL evolved from ET has unfavorable clinical and biological features. JAK2 (V617F)-positive ET may evolve in few instances into JAK2-negative leukemia. The outcome of patients is poor whatever the treatment used.
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