Is the percentage of cells with a genetic mutation relevant?

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Question from David:

Is the percentage of cells with a genetic mutation relevant? Specifically, does the percentage of 11q (ATM) deleted cells have any prognostic value e.g., 20 percent is "worse" than 10 percent, or is "any" deletion an unfavorable indication?

Answer from Dr. Leclair: 

The answer is a qualified yes.  The presence/absence of a mutation tells you what the disease/condition is. The number of cells containing that abnormality is a reflection of what is called "tumor burden" or "allele burden."  If you think of the bone marrow as a 2-liter bottle of soda, as the mutated cells increase in number, the normal cells will decrease, leaving you with a marrow less capable of maintaining normalcy and coping with any chemotherapy.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Have a question for the experts? Send them to questions@patientpower.info.

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Page last updated on April 14, 2015