Karyotypes were determined in 109 patients with acute myeloid leukemia. The proportions of patients with nonclonal chromosomal abnormalities, with numeric changes only, and with severe chromosomal aberrations were all found to increase to a statistically significant degree with patient age. Most patients in whom less than half of all cells were abnormal were elderly males. These results indicate that the cell karyotype was less stable in elderly patients than in younger patients. A higher frequency of nonclonal chromosomal changes was found in patients with clonal abnormalities compared with those without such abnormalities. Male patients tended to gain chromosomes and had more hyperdiploid abnormalities than female patients, who tended to lose chromosomes and had more hypodiploid abnormalities. This trend of chromosomal gain in males and loss in females mainly involved chromosomes similar in size to the sex chromosomes. Three female patients with trisomy 8 and one with 7q+ and t(8;21) showed an X chromosome twisted into a spiral shape. The results indicate that the initial karyotype effects the formation of some numeric changes. These findings are discussed in relation to possible secondary chromosomal changes and karyotypic instability. © 1985.
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