Cytogenetic studies were performed on 80 pediatric cancer patients to observe the chromosomal damage, both quantitative and qualitative, induced by chemotherapy. Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) (n = 127) were obtained at diagnosis, during treatment, at remission, and at relapse, and chromosome analysis performed utilizing G-banding standard procedures. The results show a significant increase in the number of altered karyotypes (P = 0.03) in the samples during treatment, returning to values that were similar to those at diagnosis at 2-year remission. Most of the chromosomal aberrations (CA) detected during the chemotherapy regimens were nonclonal, unbalanced (75%), and involved chromosomes 1, 3, 5, 6, 11, 12, 16, and 17 most frequently. There was also a marked increase of CA in samples at relapse with very similar features (type and distribution) to those detected during treatment. There was a good correlation between the chromosomal breakpoints in our series and fragile sites (58%), oncogene (75%), and tumor suppressor gene (33%) loci described in the literature. The results obtained suggest that cytostatic drugs induce a transient increase in chromosome fragility occurring at several cancer-associated breakpoints. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
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