Korean J Leg Med.  2021 Nov;45(4):139-144. 10.7580/kjlm.2021.45.4.139.

Therapy-Related Acute Myeloid Leukemia Diagnosed at Postmortem in a Long-term Survivor of Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma

  • 1Department of Pathology, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea
  • 2Department of Forensic Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Institute of Forensic and Anthropological Science, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 4Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a common hematologic malignancy with high mortality and a short survival period in adults. About 10% of these cases, called therapy-related AML, are reported to be the consequence of chemotherapy or radiotherapy of previous malignancy. In a clinical setting, this is usually diagnosed by peripheral blood smear or bone marrow biopsy by assessing the proportion of blasts. However, postmortem blood samples are not suitable for smear analysis because of hemolysis. Therefore, ancillary tests for identifying leukemic infiltration or related molecular change can provide an alternative diagnostic clue for AML. The deceased had been treated for 3 years for a combined type of hepatocellular carcinoma with multiple pulmonary metastases. Treatments included the resections of primary and metastatic tumors, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, which prevented further progression of his cancer. One year after the last treatment, he suddenly collapsed without any specific symptoms and shortly died. The microscopic examination of the autopsy samples revealed extensive extramedullary infiltration of leukemia, which was confirmed as an AML by a series of ancillary immunohistochemical staining. This case illustrates both the importance of careful hematologic observation in cancer survivors and the necessity of a detailed medical diagnosis in a medicolegal autopsy.


Acute myeloid leukemia; Leukemic infiltration; Treatment-related neoplasm; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Autopsy; Postmortem diagnosis
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