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Leukemia. 1993 Dec;7(12):1975-86.

Therapy-related myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukemia. Cytogenetic characteristics of 115 consecutive cases and risk in seven cohorts of patients treated intensively for malignant diseases in the Copenhagen series.

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Department of Hematology L 4132, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia (t-AML), often presenting as myelodysplasia (t-MDS), has become the most serious long-term complication of cancer therapy and offers a unique opportunity to study chemical leukemogenesis. Seven cohorts of patients treated for six different types of primary tumor have been followed closely for leukemic complications, and 115 consecutive patients with t-MDS or t-AML, including 45 cases from the cohorts, have been investigated cytogenetically at our institutions during the past 16 years. In patients primarily treated with alkylating agents, the risk of t-MDS and t-AML increased by approximately 1% per year from 2 to at least 8 years after start of treatment. In most cases, the disease presented as t-MDS with loss of a whole chromosome 5 or 7, or various parts of their long arms, and the leukemias were of FAB-subtypes M1, M2, or M4. In patients treated with drugs targeting at DNA-topoisomerase II, such as etoposide, doxorubicin, 4-epidoxorubicin, or mitoxantrone combined with drugs reacting directly with DNA, such as cisplatin or alkylating agents, the risk of leukemia increased much more steeply from only one year after start of therapy. These early onset cases often presented as overt leukemia of FAB-subtypes M4 or M5 with balanced translocations to chromosome bands 11q23 and 21q22, whereas later onset cases often shared characteristics with cases observed after therapy with alkylating agents alone. Both alkylation of DNA and poisoning of DNA-topoisomerase II may result in development of t-AML with different clinical and cytogenetic characteristics. There may be a synergistic leukemogenic effect between the two types of drug, and in patients with germ cell tumors treated with etoposide, cisplatin and bleomycin, reassessment suggested the risk of leukemia to increase exponentially with increasing doses of cisplatin and etoposide.

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