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N Engl J Med. 1999 Feb 4;340(5):351-7.

Risk of leukemia after platinum-based chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



Platinum-based chemotherapy is the cornerstone of modern treatment for ovarian, testicular, and other cancers, but few investigations have quantified the late sequelae of such treatment.


We conducted a case-control study of secondary leukemia in a population-based cohort of 28,971 women in North America and Europe who had received a diagnosis of invasive ovarian cancer between 1980 and 1993. Leukemia developed after the administration of platinum-based therapy in 96 women. These women were matched to 272 control patients. The type, cumulative dose, and duration of chemotherapy and the dose of radiation delivered to active bone marrow were compared in the two groups.


Among the women who received platinum-based combination chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, the relative risk of leukemia was 4.0 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.4 to 11.4). The relative risks for treatment with carboplatin and for treatment with cisplatin were 6.5 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 36.6) and 3.3 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.1 to 9.4), respectively. We found evidence of a dose-response relation, with relative risks reaching 7.6 at doses of 1000 mg or more of platinum (P for trend <0.001). Radiotherapy without chemotherapy (median dose, 18.4 Gy) did not increase the risk of leukemia.


Platinum-based treatment of ovarian cancer increases the risk of secondary leukemia. Nevertheless, the substantial benefit that platinum-based treatment offers patients with advanced disease outweighs the relatively small excess risk of leukemia.

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