Early reduction of BCR-ABL1 transcript levels has been associated with improved outcome in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) treatment. We evaluated 54 chronic-phase CML patients treated with imatinib who switched therapy to dasatinib (n = 33) or nilotinib (n = 21). BCR-ABL1 transcript levels were measured in peripheral blood using real-time quantitative PCR (RQ-PCR) every 3 months from the start of second-line treatment. Patients with BCR-ABL transcript levels >10% at 3 months and >1% at 6 months had significantly inferior progression-free (PFS) and event-free survival (EFS) than patients with RQ-PCR <10% at 3 months and <1% at 6 months (66 vs. 100%, p = 0.01, and 33 vs. 73%, p = 0.02, respectively). Patients with RQ-PCR <10% at 3 months and >1% at 6 months also had inferior PFS and EFS than patients with RQ-PCR <10% at 3 months and <1% at 6 months (48 vs. 100%, p = 0.002, and 25 vs. 73%, p < 0.0001, respectively). Two measurements of BCR-ABL levels were better than a single one to stratify chronic-phase CML patients as failure after second-line therapy.

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