What is the role of exposure to toxins and drugs in the etiology of pediatric acute myelocytic leukemia (AML)?

Updated: Sep 12, 2017
  • Author: Mark E Weinblatt, MD; Chief Editor: Jennifer Reikes Willert, MD  more...
  • Print

Exposure to toxic chemicals that cause damage to bone marrow, such as benzene and toluene (used in the leather, shoe, and dry cleaning industries), is associated with leukemia in adults. Direct evidence of this effect in children has not been established. Exposure to pesticides has been noted to increase the risk of acute myeloid leukemia.

A compelling association has been observed after treatment with antineoplastic cytotoxic agents, particularly alkylating agents such as procarbazine, the nitrosoureas, cyclophosphamide, melphalan, and the epipodophyllotoxins etoposide and teniposide. Patients receiving these agents to treat malignancies (eg, Hodgkin disease) have a significantly increased risk of developing a preleukemic syndrome that ultimately transforms into overt acute myeloid leukemia, especially if the agents are administered with radiation therapy.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!