Secondary Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Pathogenesis and Treatment

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Debora Capelli, MD
Diego Menotti, MD
Alessandro Fiorentini, MD
Francesco Saraceni, MD
Attilio Olivieri, MD


Secondary acute myeloid leukemia includes acute myeloid leukemia that arises either from a previous myeloid hematologic disease such as myelodysplastic syndrome, chronic myeloproliferative syndrome, or myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative overlap syndromes or from a previous chemotherapy or radiotherapy performed for another disease. Secondary acute myeloid leukemia is characterized by a worse prognosis than its de novo counterparts, with a 5-year overall survival of <30% despite an advanced insight into pathogenesis and new available treatments. The best therapeutic strategy is to achieve complete remission with a negative minimal residual disease followed by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; however, advanced age of patients at diagnosis, multiple comorbidities, and lower rate of complete remission makes these approaches available only for a small fraction of secondary acute myeloid leukemia patients. In this chapter, we discuss the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and prognostic factors of secondary acute myeloid leukemia. Also, we discuss the main treatments currently available for eligible patients (fit patients) and non-eligible patients (unfit patients) for intensive chemotherapy and future treatment perspectives.


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Chapter 7