How I treat patients with advanced systemic mastocytosis.
Advanced systemic mastocytosis (SM) is a rare myeloid neoplasm characterized by uncontrolled accumulation of neoplastic mast cells (MCs) in various organs with consecutive impairment of organ function, drug resistance, and a poor prognosis. Advanced SM may present as smoldering or slowly progressing neoplasm but may also present as rapidly progressing aggressive SM or even as MC leukemia. Approximately half of the patients have an associated hematologic non-MC-lineage disease (SM-AHNMD) or develop an AHNMD over time. Drug resistance may not only result from the KIT mutant D816V that is found in most patients, but also from KIT-independent pro-oncogenic signaling pathways that play a role in disease evolution. In patients with slow progression, advanced SM can often be kept under control for months with interferon-α or 2CdA. By contrast, in rapidly progressing aggressive SM and MC leukemia, even polychemotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation may fail, which points to the need to develop new drugs and treatment concepts for these patients. In SM-AHNMD, separate treatment plans should be established for the SM component and the AHNMD component of the disease, with recognition that the AHNMD often has to be managed and treated as a secondary and thus a high-risk neoplasm.