Acute myeloid leukemia in patients previously diagnosed with breast cancer: Experience of the GIMEMA group

L. Pagano, A. Pulsoni, L. Mele, M. E. Tosti, R. Cerri, G. Visani, L. Melillo, A. Candoni, M. Clavio, A. Nosari, M. C. Petti, B. Martino, A. Mele, A. Levis, B. Allione, C. Almici, F. Equitani, G. Leone, F. Mandelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate in a multicenter retrospective study, the clinical and laboratory characteristics and the outcome of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (sAML) previously diagnosed with breast cancer (BC) among an adult acute leukemia population. Patients and methods: Between June 1992 and July 1996, 3934 new cases of adults with acute leukemia were recorded in GIMEMA Archive of Adult Acute Leukemia (2964 AML, 901 ALL, 69 acute leukemia expressing both myeloid and lymphoid surface markers). Results: Two hundred patients (5.1%) presented with a history of previous malignancy (21 of them were affected by ALL and 179 by AML). Among sAML, 37 patients (29%) had a previous breast cancer. They consisted of 36 females and 1 male, median age 56 years, range 34-87. The median latency between the 2 malignancies was 54 months (range 5-379). Twenty-seven patients received chemo- and/or radiotherapy for breast cancer (7 only chemotherapy, 6 only radiotherapy, and 14 combined treatment). All patients were surgically treated but in 10 patients surgical debridement was the sole therapy for breast cancer. The drugs most frequently employed were alkylating agents (18 patients), topoisomerase II inhibitors (9 patients), antimetabolites (20 patients) (CMF, CEF and MMM combinations). At onset of sAML the median WBC count was 7.7 × 109/1 (0.8-153) and the median platelet count was 33.5 × 109/1 (3-305). Considering morphological features, FAB subtypes were 4 M0, 5 M1, 11 M2, 5 M3, 8 M4, 3 M5, and 1 M6. Cytogenetic study was performed on 28 patients and 12 of them presented abnormalities. It is noteworthy that chromosome 5 or 7 abnormalities (typically observed in those patients treated with alkylating agents) were present only in three cases. Thirty-four patients received chemotherapy for sAML, and twenty-five of them achieved a CR (74%), with a median duration of twenty-eight weeks (5-280+). The overall survival was 8 months (1-80+). Discussion: The high number of sAML we observed in patients with a previous breast cancer, may be due to the fact that this malignancy is the most frequent neoplasm in women and by the high probability of cure with a consequent long disease-free survival. Our results suggest that the risk of sAML after recovery from breast cancer is increasing due to the rise in the number of patients cured from breast cancer, and in the future could be a relevant problem for haematologists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-207
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Breast cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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