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Cancer Genetics

Inherited Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

11/24/1999

Question:

I have been diagnosed with Chronic Mylogenous Leukemia and was told that several chromosomes are involved in my case, I thought the Philadelphia chromosome was the Chronic Mylogenous Leukemia condition. Any ideas? Also is there and evidence that this translocation can be caused by a genetic source?

Answer:

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) typically starts with the development of the Philadelphia chromosome translocation involving chromosomes 9 and 22. The rearrangement of those two chromosomes brings two genes together to form a new gene whose product allows that initial white blood cell to grow independently without the need for outside growth factor stimulation. This uncontrolled growth is the source of the leukemia.

As more and more leukemic white blood cells are formed, additional chromosomal abnormalities may also develop. Some of the other chromosomes which have been reported to be abnormal include chromosomes 8 and 17 along with additional abnormalities involving chromosome 22.

These chromosome abnormalities are not present in the individual at birth but develop with time. We do not know if there is a genetic susceptibility in some families for the Philadelphia chromosome to develop.

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Response by:

Judith A Westman, MD Judith A Westman, MD
Associate Professor, Clinical Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Medical Biochemistry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University