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Conditions Studied by the Center for Prevention of Progression of Blood Cancers

    • Early Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS): MDS is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells. In advanced MDS, there are abnormal leukemia-like "blast" cells in the blood and/or bone marrow, and often abnormal chromosomes in the marrow, as well. These findings are less common in early MDS. MDS, especially advanced MDS, has a risk of progressing to acute myeloid leukemia (AML); AML is defined by the presence of at least 20 percent blast cells in the blood or marrow. Often patients have mild blood count abnormalities, such as unexplained anemia, that could be a result of MDS, but that do not meet established diagnostic criteria for MDS. Such patients are sometimes said to have "Idiopathic Cytopenias of Undetermined Significance" (ICUS — idiopathic means of uncertain cause, and a cytopenia is a low blood count) and in the past these patients were just observed over time with periodic blood counts. Newer molecular testing may help identify patients with ICUS who actually have early MDS and are at higher risk of developing advanced stage MDS or AML. Learn more about MDS.
    • Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPN): MPN is a category of cancer in which the bone marrow produces excessive amounts of blood cells, often resulting in high blood counts or enlargement of the spleen. Patients with MPN have a risk of developing blood clots and of progressing to acute myeloid leukemia (AML); AML is defined by the presence of at least 20 percent blast cells in the blood or marrow. This category is composed of three major myeloid disorders: essential thrombocythemia (ET), polycythemia vera (PV), and myelofibrosis (MF). ET and PV can turn into MF over time. There are also some uncommon disorders that have features of both MPN and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS — see above), such as chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML), juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML), and refractory anemia with ring sideroblasts and thrombocytosis (RARS-T). Learn more about MPN.
    • Asymptomatic Multiple Myeloma and Waldenström's Macroglobulinemia, including Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS), Smoldering Multiple Myeloma (SMM), and Smoldering Waldenström's Macroglobulinemia (SWM)
      • MGUS: In this type of plasma cell neoplasm, there are abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow – but there is no cancer. The abnormal plasma cells produce what is called monoclonal (M) protein, which may be found during a routine blood or urine test. In most patients, the amount of M protein stays the same and there are no symptoms or problems. In some patients, MGUS may later become a more serious condition or cancer, such as multiple myeloma, lymphoma, or Waldenström's Macroglobulinemia.
      • SMM: SMM is a precursor condition in which high concentrations of abnormal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and secrete monoclonal (M) proteins and/or free light-chains (FLCs). SMM is characterized by the absence of end organ damage; M protein concentrations of 3 g/dL or greater; 10 percent or more abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow; or a combination of all of these factors.
      • SWM: SWM is a precursor condition in which high concentrations of abnormal lymphocytes and plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and secrete M proteins of IgM type. SWM is characterized by the absence of end organ damage; M protein concentrations of 3 g/dL or greater; 10 percent or more abnormal lymphocytes and plasma cells in the bone marrow; or a combination of all of these factors.
      Learn more about multiple myeloma and related disorders.
    • Early-Stage, Asymptomatic Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), including Monoclonal B Cell Lymphocytosis (MBL): CLL is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). It is a disease that usually gets worse slowly. CLL is the second most common type of leukemia in adults, and often occurs during or after middle age; it rarely occurs in children. Learn more about CLL.
    • Early-Stage, Asymptomatic Low-Grade Lymphomas: These are cancers of the lymphoid cells, and include follicular lymphoma, lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma, and splenic marginal zone lymphoma. In many cases, these lymphomas grow very slowly and do not require treatment for many years.
    • Other precursor conditions or clonal genetic abnormalities of the blood/bone marrow that do not meet criteria for symptomatic hematological malignancy, or patients exposed to prior chemotherapies (e. g., alkylating agents, platinum derivatives, taxanes, topo-2 inhibitors, anti-metabolites, systemic radioisotopes)