Deletion or loss of the long arm of chromosome 7 in myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukaemia could indicate previous exposure to ionising radiation, says Dr Maryanne Gundestrup from the University of Copenhagen (Lancet 2000; 356: 2158). This finding can be used as a marker for an increased risk of acute myeloid leukaemia due to increased exposure to radiation in persons, such as aircrew members exposed to cosmic radiation or patients after radiotherapy.

Researchers studied the karyotype of seven aircrew members who had acute myeloid leukaemia or myelodysplasia and found a deletion or a loss of chromosome 7 in four. The same abnormality was found in eight of 19 patients with leukaemia after radiotherapy alone. Both the aircrew and radiotherapy groups showed a statistical significant excess of chromosome abnormality when compared with the range of chromosome aberrations found in 761 patients with myelodysplasia or acute myeloid leukaemia from Lund, Sweden....

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