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.”
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.