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Blood Testing Identifies Abnormal Cells Up to Six Years Prior to Leukemia Diagnosis
Date:2/20/2009

cancer testing, and this study demonstrates the commitment of our science and innovation team to advancing cancer research," said Surya N. Mohapatra, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Quest Diagnostics.

CLL is a blood cancer that usually progresses slowly over many years. In this disease, abnormal white blood cells called B-cells accumulate in the blood and the bone marrow. The lymph nodes, spleen, and other organs may also be affected. Although CLL is the most common form of leukemia in adults in Western countries, little is known about what causes the disease or how it develops.

Previous research by the NCI/FDA team and others showed that some family members of CLL patients can have B-cells in their blood that have outer-surface proteins that are similar to proteins found on CLL cells. This abnormal condition, known as monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL), occurs in over 10 percent of CLL family members and in about 3 percent to 5 percent of healthy adults over the age of 50, suggesting it might be a precursor of CLL.

In the current study, the research team identified 45 individuals among the more than 77,000 participants in the nationwide Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial who were cancer-free upon entering the trial, were later diagnosed with CLL, and had frozen blood samples available for analysis that had been collected upon their enrollment in PLCO. Using sophisticated laboratory techniques developed by Quest Diagnostics to analyze the blood samples, the researchers found that 44 of the 45 CLL patients had MBL between six months to more than six years prior to their CLL diagnosis. Prior research shows that the MBL cells were identified by examining cell-surface proteins, or CLL markers, using a method called flow cytometry, and by using molecular techniques to confirm the presence of certain rearranged genes, known as immunoglobulin heavy variable (IGHV) group ge
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SOURCE Quest Diagnostics
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