New study looks at Robin Roberts' rare condition



Posted on September 17, 2012 at 9:55 AM

AUSTIN -- When "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts announced her breast cancer treatment led to another type of cancer, many women were understandably concerned. Friday a new study shed light on that risk.

In August Roberts announced she was being treated for a kind of leukemia known as Myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS.

"Sometimes treatments for cancer can lead to other serious medical issues, and that's what I'm facing right now," she said.

"MDS is a disorder of your bone marrow. As a result of her breast cancer treatment, she's developed MDS," said ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Richard Besser, M.D.

This new study out looked at more than 20,000 breast cancer patients over three years, including thousands in Texas who underwent chemotherapy. The goal was to find out if their treatment increased the risk of developing the blood and bone marrow disease.

Dr. Debra Patt, M.D., is a medical oncologist and hematologist who works with Texas Oncology. She helped in the research.

"Of those that received chemotherapy there was no increased risk for acute leukemia or Myelodysplasia."            

Dr. Patt said age and certain chemotherapies do increase a patient's risk.

"Specifically, Cytoxan is associated with an increased risk of MDS and luekemia. Anthracycline exposure like Adriamycin are associated with an increased risk, and then radiation has been previously characterized as an increased risk,” said Dr. Patt.

Keep in mind the condition is still rare. About 18,000 people develop MDS each year and only about 350 because of their cancer treatment.

"It's important to make sure you have good education and that you have a good understanding about risk, so you're able to make good informed decisions about care,” said Dr. Patt. “That way you can have a good outcome and are more likely to be cured of your disease."

You can read more about the study by clicking here.