World Health Organization Recognizes the Importance of "Inherited" Cancer Predisposition in Leukemia Classification
In 2013, the Cancer Research Foundation funded the beginning of the North American Consortium of Familial Hematological Malignancies, hoping to help Dr. Jane Churpek and Dr. Lucy Godley create a better way to identify and classify rare cancerous blood diseases that are passed down from generation to generation. These malignancies, which can have real implications for families dealing with leukemia, were thought to be so rare that routine consideration of them was not a standard component of decisions regarding treatment and stem cell transplantation.
However, by reaching out beyond their own labs and patient cohorts and networking with an international group of researchers and doctors, Dr. Godley and Dr. Churpek have been able to show that familial cancer predisposition occurs more frequently than previously appreciated and has real consequences for patients dealing with leukemia and their families. Consideration of these inherited syndromes is especially important at the time of evaluating donors for stem cell transplantation when particular signs may indicate that potential donors may also carry the family predisposition. Recognizing the importance of familial leukemias in clinical care, the World Health Organization is adding a provisional category in its leukemia classification scheme for "germ-line predisposition" which means that all doctors dealing with leukemia should be looking for potential "passed-down" cancer predisposition, and means that far more people who have a much greater likelihood of particular blood cancers can be monitored and treated earlier.
The Cancer Research Foundation has focused attention on cancer and raised money for life-giving research. We...pay tribute to the scientists who have dedicated themselves to finding a cure and to meet the young researchers who are the next generation of fighters against this disease. The message we send today is that those who suffer from cancer are not alone and that together we can work toward a solution."Richard M. Daley
Mayor, City of Chicago
May 20, 1997