Malignancy in patients with sickle cell disease

Am J Hematol. 2003 Dec;74(4):249-53. doi: 10.1002/ajh.10427.


Malignancy in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) has been previously reported, but the types of cancer and its incidence remain undefined. With the advent of hydroxyurea therapy, there is concern about increasing the cancer risk for patients with SCD. The International Association of Sickle Cell Nurses and Physician Assistants identified 52 cases of cancer (49 patients) among 16,613 patients with SCD followed at 52 institutions. The median age at malignancy diagnosis was 34 years (range, 14 months-62 years). Twenty-one cases (40%) occurred in pediatric patients, primarily leukemia (n = 7) or Wilms' tumor (n = 5), with 15 children surviving. Most adults had solid tumors, especially carcinomas, and only nine were known to be alive. Three patients received hydroxyurea before the diagnosis of malignancy. These data provide essential baseline information for the accurate interpretation of future reports of malignancy in patients with SCD, especially those receiving hydroxyurea therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyurea / adverse effects
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Leukemia / epidemiology
  • Leukemia / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / classification
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Wilms Tumor / epidemiology
  • Wilms Tumor / etiology


  • Hydroxyurea