Maximizing Breast Cancer Therapy with Awareness of Potential Treatment-Related Blood Disorders.

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The oncologist


In this review we summarize the impact of the various modalities of breast cancer therapy coupled with intrinsic patient factors on incidence of subsequent treatment-induced myelodysplasia and acute myelogenous leukemia (t-MDS/AML). It is clear that risk is increased for patients treated with radiation and chemotherapy at younger ages. Radiation is associated with modest risk, whereas chemotherapy, particularly the combination of an alkylating agent and an anthracycline, carries higher risk and radiation and chemotherapy combined increase the risk markedly. Recently, treatment with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), but not pegylated G-CSF, has been identified as a factor associated with increased t-MDS/AML risk. Two newly identified associations may link homologous DNA repair gene deficiency and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitor treatment to increased t-MDS/AML risk. When predisposing factors, such as young age, are combined with an increasing number of potentially leukemogenic treatments that may not confer large risk singly, the risk of t-MDS/AML appears to increase. Patient and treatment factors combine to form a biological cascade that can trigger a myelodysplastic event. Patients with breast cancer are often exposed to many of these risk factors in the course of their treatment, and triple-negative patients, who are often younger and/or BRCA positive, are often exposed to all of them. It is important going forward to identify effective therapies without these adverse associated effects and choose existing therapies that minimize the risk of t-MDS/AML without sacrificing therapeutic gain. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Breast cancer is far more curable than in the past but requires multimodality treatment. Great care must be taken to use the least leukemogenic treatment programs that do not sacrifice efficacy. Elimination of radiation and anthracycline/alkylating agent regimens will be helpful where possible, particularly in younger patients and possibly those with homologous repair deficiency (HRD). Use of colony-stimulating factors should be limited to those who truly require them for safe chemotherapy administration. Further study of a possible leukemogenic association with HRD and the various forms of colony-stimulating factors is badly needed.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Women & Children