NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 8,525 terms related to cancer and medicine.

We offer a widget that you can add to your website to let users look up cancer-related terms. Get NCI’s Dictionary of Cancer Terms Widget.

differentiation syndrome
(DIH-feh-REN-shee-AY-shun SIN-drome)
A serious side effect that may occur in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia or other types of acute myeloid leukemia who have been treated with certain types of anticancer drugs. Differentiation syndrome usually occurs within 1 to 2 weeks after starting treatment, but it can occur later. It is caused by a large, rapid release of cytokines (immune substances) from leukemia cells that are affected by the anticancer drugs. Signs and symptoms of differentiation syndrome include fever; cough; trouble breathing; weight gain; swelling of the arms, legs, and neck; build-up of excess fluid around the heart and lungs; low blood pressure; and kidney failure. Differentiation syndrome can be life-threatening if not treated early.