Supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb through the Robin Roberts Cancer Thrivership Fund
Leukemias represent cancers of the blood and are caused by genetic changes (mutations) in our blood cell that drive uncontrolled cell growth. Cancer survivors are more likely to develop leukemia than the general population. Traditionally this was thought to be a consequence of toxicity from the treatments used to fight their cancer, which leads to the development of therapy-related myeloid neoplasm (tMN) one of the most deadly and challenging to treat cancers. However recent studies show that leukemia associated mutations can be found many years before cancer diagnosis and interestingly, these blood mutations can also be seen in healthy people who never develop leukemia. This is phenomenon is called clonal hematopoiesis (CH). Our group has shown that CH is frequent in cancer patients and we find that cancer treatment may promote growth of cells carrying such mutations. To understand the effects of cancer treatment in patients that carry such mutations and how this dictates subsequent progression to leukemia, we propose to study a total of 45,000 cancer patients at time of cancer diagnosis. This will identify individuals with CH at time of diagnosis. We will then follow up patients and study the effects of oncologic therapy to analyzed for the presence of CH and study the effects of distinct cancer treatments on CH. Our study will help us understand tMN and guide the development of interventions to prevent tMN.