Ever since I began doing research on myeloma, one of my certainties–although with something like myeloma you can never be absolutely certain!!!–has been that myeloma is NOT a hereditary disease. Yes, of course, I’ve read about a few patients who had relatives with myeloma, but…only a few.
If you do an online search, you will find that not much is known about the causes of myeloma. A few known ones are things such as pesticide exposure, past exposure to radiation, genetic changes that turn our plasma cells into MM cells…stuff like that. The family connection seems to be a minor one…
Today, however, I read a Science Daily article that suggested otherwise. As you can see for yourself (goo.gl/jPgDtS), the article begins like this: “Researchers have identified two gene regions that contribute to multiple myeloma, an inherited cancer…”
SAY WHAAAAAT??? MYELOMA…AN INHERITED CANCER?
The Science Daily article picked this up from a newly published gene mapping study that I won’t even try to read today (my brain is still reeling from that “inherited” business). If you’re interested and find technical jargon as fascinating as my kittens find me doing practically anything 😉 , go right ahead and have a look: goo.gl/bTgGmW
Still stunned, I immediately began digging and found a few relatively new studies on the apparent inheritance factor. A 2013 “Leukemia” study uses the expressions “familial clustering” and “genetic predisposition” in its abstract, but the full study isn’t available for free online, so I wasn’t able to check it out. For what it’s worth, here’s the link (to the abstract): goo.gl/kr2Fq2
According to another study published in 2016 (see goo.gl/nNqqJh), full study available online, “Results from this pooled analysis provide compelling evidence to support hypotheses that genetic inheritance plays a role in the aetiology of MM.” The risk is greater if you have a first-degree relative with myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, or leukaemia.
But is that enough evidence? I mean, can we really define myeloma as an “inherited cancer”?
Of one thing I am certain: nobody in my family has MGUS, let alone MM. I’m the first (and last, since I don’t have any children, apart from the marvelous furry ones, of course!). Besides, based on my most recent readings, I am 100% positive that EBV started my myeloma.
I think there are too many potential causes out there, there’s too much we just don’t know (for example, the bone marrow microenvironment wasn’t even considered to be an important player in myeloma until a decade ago), for us to be able to define myeloma as a hereditary type of cancer. Or…am I wrong?
I’d be really interested to know how many of you have myeloma (or leukemia/lymphoma) in the family…