Discussing and managing hematologic germ line variants

Wendy Kohlmann and Joshua D. Schiffman


With the introduction of genomic technologies, more hereditary cancer syndromes with hematologic malignancies are being described. Up to 10% of hematologic malignancies in children and adults may be the result of an underlying inherited genetic risk. Managing these patients with hereditary hematologic malignancies, including familial leukemia, remains a clinical challenge because there is little information about these relatively rare disorders. This article covers some of the issues related to the diagnosis and interpretation of variants associated with hereditary hematologic malignancies, including the importance of an accurate family history in interpreting genetic variants associated with disease. The challenges of screening other family members and offering the most appropriate early malignancy detection is also discussed. We now have a good opportunity to better define hereditary cancer syndromes with associated hematologic malignancies and contribute to clinically effective guidelines.

  • Submitted June 21, 2016.
  • Accepted August 9, 2016.
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