Risk of Leukemia after chemotherapy treatment
These finding result from reviews of more than 20,000 breast cancer cases which were handled between 1998 and 2007. It has also been found that thought the risk is quite low yet it is double of what the experts has previously thought.
Dr. Judith Karp, professor emerita of oncology at John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said that the frequency of bone marrow cancer like leukemia is quite low yet with time; the cumulative risk over the last decade is now twice as high as it was apprehended earlier. Also, the risk has not showed any signs of slowing down.
The patients that were included in the research had been treated at eight different cancer centers in US and NCCN supplied their post-treatment health reports. According to them, 50 patients had developed leukemia within the time frame of a decade, after exposure to breast cancer chemotherapy or radiation or both.
Thus the percentage amounted to 0.50 percent which was twice the percent that was seen earlier. In the December 22 edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, it was reported that these results should give a pause to the patients and doctors who think about post-surgical treatment options.
An issue is that whether the patients who have a very low risk for this type of cancer be given chemotherapy or radiation, as the risk of leukemia is now greater. For example, if one is in stage 1, she has localized tumors which might not have spread to the lymph nodes. So the doctors should think such as not to add any risk of leukemia.
Additionally, the NCCN does not recommend any more that post-operative therapy should be standard for stage 1 patients. The study did find a relation between the post-surgery chemotherapy or radiation and risk of leukemia; however it did not establish a cause-and-effect relation.
Also, two breast cancer specialists said that post-operative treatments might still be useful for many patients. Although the risk has doubled in the past decade, yet it is still very low and it is still outweighed by the benefits it has in decreasing the tumors and breast cancer deaths. This was said by Dr. Charles Shapiro, the co-director of the Dublin Breast Cancer Center at the Mount Sinai Hospital in NY City.
Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in NY City, said that though the risk has increased, yet the chemotherapy for breast cancer has improved the survival rate considerably. Also, that we are now in an era where chemotherapy is given with more precaution and selectively. And in any case, the risk and benefits are discussed beforehand.