Blood Cancer: The Silent Disease


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – About every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with blood cancer, and every nine minutes, someone dies from it. Now, researchers are trying to determine what causes certain mutated genes to replicate out of control and trigger blood cancer.

Phil Pfeffer is a 78-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist, but lately, he had debilitating fatigue.

“He [my doctor]has been concerned that I was showing up being anemic, and didn’t really know why,” Phil says.

Blood cancer could be a potential reason, so Phil enrolled in a genetic study to see if he had any genetic mutations that may trigger blood cancer.

Alexander Bick, MD, PhD, a Professor at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, explains, “With age, our stem cells — the cells that make up all the blood in our body – divide, and every time these cells divide, they acquire new mutations. Once in a while, you get a mutation in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

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The question is, why?

“Clonal hematopoiesis is really a silent disease, happens in our blood cells and just looking at a patient, you would never know that they had it. This disease that we call clonal hematopoiesis, was only, really, discovered about five years ago, and, you know, just in the past five years, we’re getting a much better sense of what mutations in the blood are really harmful and cause blood cancer,” Dr. Bick further explains.

So far, Phil’s genes do not put him at risk for blood cancer. Once he got the news, he headed to the family farm to celebrate.

As we age, the probability of having a mutated gene increases. Only one percent of them are seen in people under 40, while 10 percent of people over 70 have them.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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REPORT:        MB #5287

BACKGROUND: Clonal blood cancers, also known as hematologic malignancies, are a group of cancers that originate in the blood-forming tissues of the body. These cancers occur when abnormal blood cells, often referred to as “clonal cells,” multiply uncontrollably, crowding out healthy blood cells and interfering with the normal functioning of the blood and immune systems. Blood cancers account for around 10 percent of all diagnosed cancers in the United States each year. They are more common in men than in women and treatments can range from active surveillance without cancer-directed therapies to standard treatment therapies.


DIAGNOSING: Diagnosis typically involves blood tests, bone marrow biopsies, imaging studies, and other specialized tests. A definitive diagnosis is essential for determining the specific type of blood cancer and its stage. Symptoms of clonal blood cancers can vary depending on the specific type and stage of the cancer but may include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, frequent infections, bruising, bleeding, enlarged lymph nodes, bone pain, and changes in blood cell counts. Treatment options for clonal blood cancers depend on the type, stage, and individual patient factors. Common treatment modalities include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and supportive care to manage symptoms and side effects.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: The Food and Drug Administration approved the usage of Talquetamab and Elranatamab as a form of targeted immunotherapy called bispecific antibodies. These are the first of its kind in their class approved for treatment of multiple myeloma. Both treatments work to bind together a protein called GPCR5D, that is highly expressed in the surfacing of multiple myeloma cells. The other part of the treatment binds an immune cell, called the T-cell. Once the T-cell and myeloma cell bind, it can kill the myeloma cell without causing harm to other cells.



Craig Boerner

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Alexander Bick, MD, PhD, Professor

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