Mechanisms of therapy-related carcinogenesis

Nat Rev Cancer. 2005 Dec;5(12):943-55. doi: 10.1038/nrc1749.


Therapy-related cancers, defined as second primary cancers that arise as a consequence of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, are unusual in that they have a well-defined aetiology. Knowledge of the specific nature of the initiating exposure and exactly when it occurred has made it easier to identify crucial genetic events and to model these in vitro and in vivo. As such, the study of therapy-related cancers has led to the elucidation of discrete mechanisms of carcinogenesis, including DNA double-strand-break-induced gene translocation and genomic instability conferred by loss of DNA repair. Unsurprisingly, some of these mechanisms seem to operate in the development of sporadic cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cell Death
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • Genomic Instability
  • Hodgkin Disease / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / etiology*
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / pathology
  • Risk
  • Topoisomerase Inhibitors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Topoisomerase Inhibitors