Therapy-related myeloid neoplasms (t-MN) include diseases onsetting in patients treated with chemo- and/or radiotherapy for a primary cancer, or an autoimmune disorder. Genomic variants, in particular in familial cancer genes, may play a predisposing role. Recent advances in deep sequencing techniques have shed light on the pathogenesis of t-MN, identifying clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP) as a frequent first step in the multi-hit model of t-MN. CHIP is often detectable prior to any cytotoxic treatment, probably setting the fertile genomic background for secondary leukemogenesis. The evolution pattern towards t-MN is then a complex process, shaped by the type of cancer therapy, the aging process, and the individual exposures, that favor additional hits, such as the acquisition of TP53 mutations and unfavorable karyotype abnormalities. The pathogenesis of t-MN differs from MN associated with environmental exposure. Indeed, the genetic aberration patterns of MN developing in atomic bomb survivors show few mutations in classical DNA methylation genes, and a high prevalence of 11q and ATM alterations, together with TP53 mutations. Survival in t-MN is poor. In addition to the biology of t-MN, the patient's previous disease history and the remission status at t-MN diagnosis are significant factors contributing to unfavorable outcome. New drugs active in secondary leukemias include CPX-351, or venetoclax in combination with hypomethylating agents, monoclonal antibodies as magrolimab, or targeted drugs against pathogenic mutations. Allogeneic stem cell transplantation remains the best currently available therapeutic option with curative intent for fit patients with unfavorable genetic profiles.
Maria Teresa Voso, Giulia Falconi, Emiliano Fabiani