Role of Local Infections in the Recognition of Haemopoietic Neoplasms


IN 1961, on the basis of circumstantial evidence alone, it was suggested that the increased risk of dying from leukaemia, which had only become apparent since the discovery of effective chemotherapy, was the result of the effect of these drugs on a hidden association between infection hazards and preleukaemia1. According to this “special relationship” theory, there was probably an interval of several years between the initiation of a leukaemic process and the onset of symptoms2, during which the effectiveness of the reticulo-endothelial system was being progressively undermined by an ever-increasing number of neoplastic cells. As a result of this corrosive action, resistance to infections was first slowly and then rapidly being reduced to the point where even a minor infection was likely to culminate in a fatal pneumonia.

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STEWART, A., KNEALE, G. Role of Local Infections in the Recognition of Haemopoietic Neoplasms. Nature 223, 741–742 (1969).

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