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Racial Disparities in Multiple Myeloma: Do Genomic Abnormalities Play a Role?

By: Cordi Craig
Posted: Monday, December 17, 2018

Results from a new study identified 3 specific subtypes of multiple myeloma that may be driving racial disparities in disease occurrence: t(11;14), t(14;16), and t(14;20). Multiple myeloma occurs two to three times more often among African Americans than European Americans—one of the highest disparities of all cancers—and this report, published in Blood Cancer Journal, may help find out why.

“Previous efforts to understand this disparity have relied on self-reported race rather than on genetic ancestry, which may have resulted in bias,” S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, explained in an institutional press release. “A major new aspect of this study is that we identified the ancestry of each patient through DNA sequencing, which allowed us to determine ancestry more accurately.”

The study authors quantitatively assessed DNA marrow samples and biogeographic ancestry among 881 patients of various racial groups with monoclonal gammopathies. All eligible patients had undergone uniform testing for cytogenetic abnormalities.

The presence of 3 specific subtypes of multiple myeloma—t(11;14), t(14;16), and t(14;20)—characterized by the presence of genetic translocations, was significantly higher among patients with the highest level of African ancestry. The occurrence of 1 of the 3 subtypes occurred in 51% of those with the highest level of African ancestry (≥ 80%) compared with just 33% of those with the lowest level of African ancestry (< 0.1%; P = .008).

“Our findings provide important information that will help us determine the mechanism by which myeloma is more common in African Americans,…” noted Dr. Rajkumar.



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