Chromosome Abnormalities in Leukemia

Last Modified: September 24, 2006

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My son-in-law was recently diagnosed with leukemia. He is at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC because he is serving in the U.S. Army. He and my daughter were told that he has an "inverted 16th chromosome". Where can I find additional information on this?

Answer

Carolyn Vachani RN, MSN, AOCN, OncoLink's Nurse Educator, responds:

You probably won't find much unless you look in specialty medical journals. Inverted chromosome 16 is the genetic abnormality associated with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) type M4. The presence of this inversion on the 16 th chromosome is just one of the ways they classify the AML type as M4. Researchers believe that something happens in the body to cause the chromosome to change, which then leads to the development of the leukemia. There is the hope that having this information can help develop better therapies for treating the disease. For example, in the case of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), the genetic abnormality is the (9;22) translocation, which is the target of the drug Gleevec. So far, this is the only one of the leukemias with a successful targeted therapy.