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Acute promyelocytic leukemia and pregnancy

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Abstract: In acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), the use of all‐trans‐retinoic acid (ATRA) as a differentiating agent induces complete remission in a high percentage of patients. In pregnancy, however, this drug bears the risk of severe teratogenicity to the child. We report the case of a 23‐yr‐old woman at 21 weeks' gestation suffering from APL. She was treated with ATRA (45 mg/m2) for 40 d and two courses of standard chemotherapy. The mother achieved complete remission within 22 d of treatment. Fetal development was normal, and a healthy premature girl was born in the 35th week of pregnancy. In a review of the literature we have identified 14 cases of APL in pregnancy treated with ATRA alone or in combination with chemotherapy. ATRA has been used as early as in the 3rd week of gestation and in no case have malformations or other teratogenic effects occurred. Side‐effects, however, ranged from fetal cardiac arrythmias to induction of labour. Although known to exhibit severe teratogenic effects during the first trimester of pregnancy, ATRA seems to be reasonably safe during the second and third trimesters in the treatment of APL. However, careful obstetric follow‐up is mandatory regarding fetal cardiac complications.
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Keywords: acute promyelocytic leukemia; all‐trans‐retinoic acid; chemotherapy; pregnancy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clinic for Hematology, Oncology and Clinical Immunology, and 2: Clinic of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Germany

Publication date: April 1, 2000

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