• acute myeloid leukaemia;
  • children;
  • cytogenetics

Summary. Between 1993 and 2001, 318 children were diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in the Nordic countries. The patient group comprised 237 children < 15 years of age with de novo AML, 42 children < 15 years with Down syndrome (DS) and de novo AML, 18 adolescents 15–18 years of age with de novo AML, and 21 children < 15 years with treatment-related AML (t-AML). The first group was all-inclusive, yielding an annual childhood de novo AML incidence of 0·7/100 000. Cytogenetic analyses were successful in 288 cases (91%), and clonal chromosomal abnormalities were detected in 211 (73%). The distribution of ploidy levels were pseudodiploidy (55%), hyperdiploidy (34%) and hypodiploidy (11%). The most common aberrations (> 2%) were + 8 (23%) (as a sole change in 6·2%), 11q23-translocations, including cryptic MLL rearrangements (22%) [t(9;11)(p21–22;q23) in 11%], t(8;21)(q22;q22) (9·0%), inv(16)(p13q22) (6·2%), −7/7q– (5·2%), and t(15;17)(q22;q12) (3·8%). Except for +8, these abnormalities were rare in group 2; only one DS patient had a t(8;21) and none had 11q23-translocations, t(15;17) or inv(16). In the t-AML group, three cases displayed 11q23-rearrangements, all t(9;11); and there were no t(8;21), t(15;17) or inv(16). Overall, the observed frequencies of t(8;21) and t(15;17) were lower, and frequencies of trisomy 8 and 11q23-translocations higher, than in previous studies. Furthermore, seven abnormalities that were previously reported as only single AML cases were also seen, meaning that der(4)t(4;11)(q26–27;q23), der(6)t(1;6)(q24–25;q27), der(7)t(7;11)(p22;q13), inv(8)(p23q11–12), t(11;17)(p15;q21), der(16)t(10;16)(q22;p13) and der(22)t(1;22)(q21;q13) are now classified as recurrent abnormalities in AML. In addition, 37 novel aberrations were observed, 11 of which were sole anomalies.