The secondary leukemias: Challenges and research directions

Malcolm A. Smith, Ronald P. McCaffrey, Judith E. Karp

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) arising following exposure to genotoxic agents has been recognized as a distinctive entity for more than 40 years. Secondary, or therapy-related, AML accounts for 10%-20% of all AML cases. This review addresses four overarching areas of investigation focused on secondary AMLs: 1) dissection of the molecular structure of the induced genetic lesions and identification of the functional consequences of these changes, thereby providing clues to the pathogenesis of secondary AML and potentially serving as a basis for innovative therapeutic interventions; 2) identification and characterization of mechanisms of DNA damage and the orderly repair of such damage; 3) identification and application of accurate biomarkers of leukemogenesis for the purpose of risk prediction and quantification, potentially allowing recognition of patients especially susceptible to the leukemogenic effects of chemotherapy (for genetic or acquired reasons) and allowing their treatment for cancer to be modified on the basis of this susceptibility; and 4) design and implementation of longitudinal clinical and genetic monitoring of high-risk populations (i.e., individuals undergoing cytotoxic therapies for primary cancers). This review of the literature relating to these areas builds upon these themes and attempts to synthesize these seemingly disparate areas of research so that they can be more effectively utilized together to address the problem of secondary AML. Ultimately, the evaluation of these areas will improve our understanding of de novo leukemia and will serve as a springboard for the development of new concepts of therapy and prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-418
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 3 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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