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Cancer Genetics

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Diagnosis

03/14/2008

Question:

My mother (age 70) was just diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. At the initial diagnosis her white blood cell count was 536,000. With Gleevec and Hydrea it`s now 6,300.

Can the abnormality associated with chromosome 9 and 22 be inherited? If so, is there a test to detect it?

Answer:

You are referring to a "translocation" in which a portion of chromosome 9 has been attached to chromosome 22.  This rearrangement in chromosomes is characteristic of CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia).  It combines portions of two genes in such a way that the new gene product that is made actually causes the leukemia by activating cellular growth and division.  This chromosome rearrangement is rarely if ever inherited.  Rather, it occurs in one cell, which then starts dividing rapidly and overgrows the normal white blood cells, eventually leading to leukemia. Identification of this translocation is used to classify the leukemia, and may be useful in determining treatment.

It is very unlikely that you have inherited a chromosome 9/22 translocation and genetic testing would not be offered.

The National Cancer Institute has a very nice discussion of CML(Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia) treatment.

Duane Culler

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Response by:

Duane D Culler, PhD, MS Duane D Culler, PhD, MS
Clinical Instructor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University