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Abstract

We examined clinical, morphologic, and cytogenetic features and ALL-1 (MLL, Htrxl, HRX) gene rearrangements in 17 cases of secondary leukemia that occurred 11 months to 9 years from diagnoses of primary cancers in children who received topoisomerase II inhibitors or developed secondary leukemias typical of those associated with this therapy. Primary diagnoses included nine solid tumors and eight leukemias. Ten secondary leukemias were acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one was of mixed lineage, two were acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and four presented as myelodysplasia. Of 15 cases with 11q23 involvement, 11 (73%) were cytogenetically identifiable; four cases had molecular rearrangement only. By Southern blot, rearrangements within the ALL-1 gene were similar to sporadic cases. The results of this analysis suggest the following: (1) In most pediatric cases of topoisomerase II inhibitor-associated leukemia, there is disruption of the breakpoint cluster region of the ALL-1 gene at chromosomal band 11q23. (2) Exposure histories vary in secondary 11q23 leukemia, as the only topoisomerase II inhibitor was dactinomycin in one case, and, in another case, no topoisomerase II inhibitor was administered. (3) There is clinical, morphologic, cytogenetic, and molecular heterogeneity in pediatric secondary 11q23 leukemia. (4) There are some survivors of pediatric secondary 11q23 leukemia, but the outcome is most often fatal.