Early Detection and Prevention of Hematologic Cancer

Posted on: February 24, 2015

A study published November 26, 2014 with the New England Journal of Medicine shows an interesting promise toward detection of hematologic cancers prior to onset of clinically-apparent symptoms through DNA sequencing. Though there are more studies that would need to be conducted on a larger scale to provide clinical usefulness, our understanding on DNA mutations relationship with elevated risks of diseases in individuals is growing. By better understanding this relationship, we can attempt to create early interventions and perhaps even prevention. It is known that cancer is developed through multiple mutations in the body and, in some cancers, those early mutations cause clonal expansions. It was hypothesized that duplication of specific mutated genes could be identified as predecessors to hematologic cancers.
Clonal Expansion: production of daughter cells all arising originally from a single cell.
The study was conducted on 12,380 persons who received complete DNA sequencing and then were followed up with for 2-7 years. After analyzing the collected data, it was organized by the number of mutations that an individual possessed and, subsequently, by which genes specifically were identified as most commonly mutated. image: https://dvohmg.com/media/DNA_DVO-Blog.png Clonal Expansion and MutationIt was found that four genes resulted with higher numbers of mutations than others. These genes were identified as ‘Drivers’ of somatic mutation, meaning that they contribute to production of cells arising from a single cell. Data shows that, as individuals age, they are more likely to possess gene drivers that may be a contributor to hematologic cancer. It was also found that as the age of the individual increases, so does the amount of mutations found. Persons who had 3 or more mutations occurred in only .3% of people younger than 50 and 4.6% of those older than 65. Upon observation, it was apparent that the same driver gene mutations that were detected in participants are present in individuals with hematologic cancers. These genes can be mutated and leave individuals un-symptomatic for long periods of time before perhaps cooperating events attribute to hematological cancer. While currently there are no interventions available for individuals who have a slightly elevated risk of hematologic cancer, and testing positive for these mutated genes does not warrant a diagnoses of such, it is hoped that strategies may be developed for eventual early detection and prevention of the hematologic cancer and other diseases that risks can be calculated with DNA screening. To hear more on Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma join Dr. Karamlou and Dr. Robles for a free event focusing on the unique issues of patients with blood cancer. They will discuss and share exciting new research, treatments and therapies recently announced at the American Society of Hematology’s annual meeting. Q & A session to follow. February 11, 2015 6:30 PM at Walnut Creek Library’s Oak Room 1644 N. Broadway Walnut Creek, CA 94596. For more information visit the event page or call 925-677-5041. Tags: