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DNA Analysis and Hematologic Cancer

Feb 01, 2015 01:11PM ● By Jennifer Neys

Kasra Karamlou, MD

By Kasra Karamlou, MD

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.

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. The study was conducted on 12,380 persons who received complete DNA sequencing and then were followed up for 2-7 years.

It 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.

Upon observation it was apparent that the same driver gene mutations that were detected in participants were 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 diagnosis of such, it is hoped that strategies may be developed for eventual early detection and prevention of the hematologic cancer and other diseases so risks can be calculated with DNA screening. 

Dr. Karamlou is a Medical Oncologist and Hematologist with Diablo Valley Oncology in Pleasant Hill.  He specializes in treating hematologic malignances and benign hematology. 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, 6:30pm at Walnut Creek Library’s Oak Room, 1644 N. Broadway, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. For more information, visit or call 925-677-5041.


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