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Ask the Expert: Is CLL Genetic?

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Published on November 16, 2017

What is the probability of passing CLL down to future generations? Are relatives of patients more likely to develop CLL? Find out from Dr. Michael Keating as he breaks down the genetic components of this condition, and explains whether it can be inherited or not.

This Ask the Expert series is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power.  We thank AbbVie and Genentech for their support.

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Transcript | Ask the Expert: Is CLL Genetic?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

Dr. Keating, so many patients ask us and they write in are my family members at risk of, high-risk of CLL because I have it?

Dr. Keating:         

It’s interesting that in European and U.S. studies, it appears that they’re perhaps four times more likely to get it than the average population, but four times is still rare, so this shouldn’t be of great concern. Now there are some families that have a much stronger penetrant of the genetic association with family trees that are littered with people with either small lymphocytic lymphoma or CLL, and we don’t know what’s the difference between the occasional association and this very large clustering of cases, so at the present time we don’t know what to do about it anyway.

We may have some clues that there are, in CLL patients there are very specific mutations in universally conserved genes, and we’re about to look at family members to see if there’s a mutation that exists before they ever develop the signs of the disease. So at that point we’d have to start thinking about what can we do to either remedy that or to develop vaccination programs against CLL.

Andrew Schorr:

But for the typical CLL patient, don’t lose sleep over this.

Dr. Keating:         

No. Not at all.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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