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Cancer Genet Cytogenet. 2008 Jan 15;180(2):149-52. doi: 10.1016/j.cancergencyto.2007.10.003.

Translocation (2;11)(q37;q23) in therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome after treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Genetics, Academic Medical Center, Meibergdreef 15, 1105 Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) with a combination of anthracycline-based chemotherapy and all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) leads to very high rates of complete remission and survival. There are only a limited number of publications on the development of therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) or acute myeloid leukemia during follow-up of APL. Although drugs targeting at DNA-topoisomerase II characteristically induce translocations involving 11q23, this was seldom seen in patients treated for APL. We report on a patient initially diagnosed with APL. Response to therapy was monitored by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction for the PML-RARalpha rearrangement. Consecutive samples showed a swift and complete reduction of PML-RARalpha rearranged cells. Twenty months after diagnosis, however, conventional cytogenetics revealed a complex karyotype with a translocation involving 11q23 and loss of chromosomes 7q and Xq. FISH analysis with the MLL probe identified 2q37 (harboring the SEPT2 gene) as the translocation partner of chromosome 11. We consider the rather unique t(2;11)(q37;q23) as the primary event causing therapy-related MDS in our patient. This case stresses the importance of conventional karyotyping to be performed on a regular basis in all treated APL patients for the early detection of chromosomal aberrations that indicate the development of therapy-related MDS or acute myeloid leukemia.

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