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Cancer Health Center

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Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Subsequent Neoplasms


Characteristics of t-MDS/AML include the following:[5,9,10,11]

  • A short latency (<10 years from primary cancer diagnosis). The risk of t-MDS/AML plateaus after 10 to 15 years. Although the risk of subsequent leukemia remains significantly elevated beyond 15 years from primary diagnosis (standardized incidence ratio [SIR], 3.5; 95% CI, 1.9-6.0), these events are relatively rare, with an absolute excess risk of 0.02 cases per 1,000 person-years.
  • An association with alkylating agents and/or topoisomerase II inhibitors.

t-MDS/AML is a clonal disorder characterized by distinct chromosomal changes. The following two types of t-MDS/AML are recognized by the World Health Organization classification:[12]

  • Alkylating agent-related type: Alkylating agents associated with t-MDS/AML include cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, mechlorethamine, melphalan, busulfan, nitrosoureas, chlorambucil, and dacarbazine.[13]

    The risk of alkylating agent-related t-MDS/AML is dose dependent, with a latency of 3 to 5 years after exposure; it is associated with abnormalities involving chromosomes 5 (-5/del(5q)) and 7 (-7/del(7q)).[13]

  • Topoisomerase II inhibitor-related type: Topoisomerase II inhibitor agents include etoposide, teniposide, and anthracycline-related drugs.

    Most of the translocations observed in patients exposed to topoisomerase II inhibitors disrupt a breakpoint cluster region between exons 5 and 11 of the band 11q23 and fuse mixed lineage leukemia with a partner gene.[13] Topoisomerase II inhibitor-related t-AML presents as overt leukemia after a latency of 6 months to 3 years and is associated with balanced translocations involving chromosome bands 11q23 or 21q22.[14]

Therapy-Related Solid Neoplasms

Therapy-related solid SNs represent 80% of all SNs and demonstrate a strong relationship with radiation exposure and are characterized by a latency that exceeds 10 years. The risk of solid SNs continues to increase with longer follow-up. The risk of solid SNs is highest when the following occur:[2]

  • Radiation exposure at a younger age.
  • High total dose of radiation.
  • Longer period of follow-up after radiation.

The histological subtypes of solid SNs encompass a neoplastic spectrum ranging from benign and low-grade malignant lesions (e.g., NMSC, meningiomas) to high-grade malignancies (e.g., breast cancers, glioblastomas).[2,7,15,16,17,18]

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