TCGA's Study of Acute Myeloid Leukemia
What is acute myeloid leukemia?
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Untreated, an acute leukemia can quickly worsen and result in death within months. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia in American adults and the average age of an AML patient is 67. In 2010, 12,330 people were estimated to have been diagnosed with AML in the United States, with an estimated 8,950 deaths.1 Survival decreases with older age because standard treatments for AML are less tolerated. Additional information on adult AML.
What have TCGA researchers learned about acute myeloid leukemia?
- Relatively few mutations were found per AML patient; an average of 13 mutated genes per tumor were found, as opposed to breast, lung or pancreatic cancer, which often have hundreds.
- Recurrently mutated genes can be clustered into nine categories based on the gene's function or pathway involvement, including:
- Transcription factor genes, which are involved in gene regulation and were observed to often aberrantly fuse together during cell division
- NPM1 genes, commonly involved in AML chromosomal abnormalities
- Myeloid transcription factors, important for blood cell development
- Cohesin complex genes, which are key in mitosis
- Signaling genes, crucial for controlling cell growth and proliferation
- Integrated previously fragmented genomic information, providing a comprehensive picture of the cancer.
1American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2010. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, Inc. 2010.