Background: Cancer patients (pts) who receive chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy for their primary tumor are at risk for developing therapy-related myeloid neoplasms (t-MN). Estimates of t-MN prevalence are mainly derived from retrospective series from hematology departments: they account for 10 to 20% of all AML cases. However this condition is frequently diagnosed in daily practice in comprehensive cancer centers (CCC). This suspected higher frequency might be due to optimized follow-up protocols and improved survival outcomes after tumor remission. The aim of this study was to assess clinical factors associated with t-MN in 2 French CCC focusing on delay of onset, survival, cytogenetically defined prognosis, treatment received for primary tumor and myeloid disease presentation.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of cancer pts who developed t-MN seen at Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France and Institut Curie, Saint-Cloud, France between 2004 and November 2014. As defined in the current 2008 WHO classification, t-MN includes therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia (t-AML), myelodysplastic syndrome (t-MDS) and myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms (t-MDS/MPN). The study inclusion criteria were development of t-MN after chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy for any primary tumor.

Results: 116 patients were retrieved from our records. 86 patients were women (74%) and the median age at t-MN diagnosis was 65 years (range, 25-91 years). The distribution of primary malignancies by site was as follows: breast cancer 46 pts, hematologic malignancy (lymphoma and myeloma) 24 pts, gynecologic cancer 14 pts, head and neck cancer 8 pts, urologic cancer 6 pts, gastrointestinal cancer 4 pts, miscellaneous (sarcoma, neurooncology, neuroendocrinology cancer) 14 pts. The median interval between primary cancer and t-MN was 60 months (range, 12-324). At the time of t-MN diagnosis, 69 (59%) had t-AML, 46 (40%) had t-MDS and 1 (1%) had t-MDS/MPN. Of note, among t-AML pts 15 (13%) had AML with recurrent genetic abnormalities and 14 had AML (12%) with MDS-related changes. Median survival from the diagnosis of t-MN was 6.5 months (5y OS was below 20%). Adverse risk karyotypes were prominent (63 pts, 59%) followed by intermediate risk (32 pts, 30%). Of note 12 pts (10%) had favorable risk karyotype. The impact of karyotype on survival was crucial: median survival was 60 months for favorable risk pts, 14 months for intermediate risk pts and only 6 months for adverse risk karyotypes. 26 pts (22%) were treated by radiation therapy alone. Treatment modality (radiation therapy alone, chemotherapy alone or combined treatment) did not affect survival or delay of onset. Of note, when we isolated pts treated by alkylating agents without topoisomerase inhibitors from those treated by topoisomerase inhibitors without alkylating agents we found that the disease presentation did not differ (same proportion of t-AML vs. t-MDS in each group), an observation in contrast with the classical description of post-alkylating agent t-MDS vs. post- topoisomerase inhibitor t-AML.

Conclusion: We report a heterogeneous cohort of 116 pts with numerous primary tumors and treatment protocols. Prominent adverse risk karyotypes are in line with a dismal survival yet favorable risk karyotypes are not uncommon and remain associated with a relatively good prognosis.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.