Skip to Navigation Skip to Search Skip to Content
Search All Centers

Is There a Hereditary Connection in CLL?

Read Transcript Download/Print Transcript
View next

Published on January 28, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • CLL is not typically something you’re born with but rather that manifests over years.
  • CLL cells are not passed down to your children.
  • Cases of hereditary CLL are very rare but if there is a strong family history of cancer across generations, genetic testing should be considered.

Medical oncologist Dr. Justin Taylor, from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, discusses genetic sequencing, detecting mutations in patients, and rare cases of hereditary chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Watch as Dr. Taylor offers insight on family history, acquiring mutations over time and hereditary genetic testing for CLL.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank AbbVie, Inc. and Pharmacyclics for their support. These organizations have no editorial control. Patient Power is solely responsible for program content.

Featuring

Transcript | Is There a Hereditary Connection in CLL?

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:                      

When you talk about genomics, is there some test we should do to see if my children are at risk for CLL? And should we do that routinely, like you might do in some other more hereditary conditions, when we really don't know, is there a real hereditary connection in CLL?

Dr. Taylor:                   

Yeah. We talk about the genetic tests, or the genomic mutations, and that always invokes something hereditary in the genes. But when we actually do these tests here at Sloan Kettering and other places, we will take the CLL cells, take the DNA from those, and we also get a sample of normal tissue. So, often it’s a swab of the side of the cheek, a swish of saliva, sometimes fingernail DNA, something that we can get that we don’t think has any CLL in it.

And then we sequence them both, and we’re comparing the CLL cells to the normal cells to try to detect the mutations that occurred in the CLL that make them different than the normal cells. So, all of these mutations that we’re talking about are something that happened in the CLL cells sometime during your life. And we’re finding out now that these could have been there, these mutations could have been there for years before they finally manifest this CLL. But they’re not something you were born with.

They’re not in the cells of your body or the cells that are passed down to your children. There are very rare cases of heredity CLL, but my understanding is they’re exceedingly rare. I haven’t come across them, but they’re reported in the literature. So, if there’s a very, very strong family history of cancer between generations, a bunch of siblings have a cancer, then that might be a time to consider hereditary genetic testing. Otherwise, CLL is typically thought to arise in these cells along your life span. You’re not born with them. They’re mutations that are occurring as you age.

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.

View next