Sep 19, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Breast Cancer Survivors At Risk Of Leukemia Following Therapy

Dec 08, 2015 10:37 PM EST

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Recent study revealed that women who survived the dreadful breast cancer battle are highly at risk of leukemia, a deemed adverse effect of treatments. Some cancer treatment regimen that kills cancerous cells also tend to target healthy ones, thus increasing patient's risk to leukemia.

Now, current statistics reveal that women who survived breast cancer account for the greater part of treatment-related leukemia. Hence, endeavor to recognize and restrain this life-threatening complication is vital because cancer survivors tend to live longer post-therapy.  

The team scrutinizes the characteristics of 88 breast cancer survivors whose age is 52 years (average) upon diagnosis and who suffer from the treatment-related complication. The team discovered that those who acquire leukemia are those with breast cancer susceptibility indications like personal and family background. 

Of the participants included, a ratio of one in every five patients is diagnosed with cancer. Nearly 60 percent of 70 patients had a historical background of cancer, where a close family member suffers from breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer. While of the 47 survivors with DNA data in hand, a little over 20 percent carried an inherited mutated gene that is linked with increase breast cancer risk.

"The findings justify a long-term follow-up study of women with and without inherited breast cancer gene mutations who are treated with similar therapy for breast cancer. This would enable us to understand how these genes impact therapy-related leukemia risk and whether specific treatments come with higher risks based on a woman's inherited genetics," lead author Jane Churpek said.

This current research aims to create awareness among healthcare practitioners and individualized patients' treatment options including possible risk and benefits. Meanwhile, John Hopkins University School of Medicine's Dr. Judith Karp and Dr. Antonio Wolff are not totally convinced that the treatment regimes are behind the leukemia complications. 

"Existing familial cancer registries that are prospectively following breast cancer patients and their families are uniquely positioned to ascertain the true frequency of subsequent leukemias and their associations with the therapies received," they wrote in an editorial as WebMD reportsHowever, the researchers are positive and believe that this can soon help in dealing and treating adverse complications related to therapy.

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