Are Sickle Cell Disease Patients More Susceptible to Renal Medullary Carcinoma?

Are sickle cell disease patients more at risk for developing renal medullary carcinoma? In this highly informative interview, Dr. Pavlos Msaouel, a respected clinician at The University of MD Anderson Cancer Center specializing in treating RMC, shares why sickle cell disease patients and those with sickle cell trait may be more at risk for developing RMC.

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About this expert

Pavlos Msaouel, MD, PhD

University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine


Rebecca Law: 

Dr. Msaouel, are sickle cell disease patients more susceptible to renal medullary carcinoma?

Dr. Pavlos Msaouel: 

So that is a wonderful question. So, it is not just individuals with sickle cell disease that are more susceptible to developing RMC, it also individuals with sickle cell trait. And there are many more individuals who have the sickle cell trait than those with disease.

Dr. Pavlos Msaouel:
About for every one individual with sickle cell disease there will be about 40 -- that's 4-0 -- individuals with sickle cell trait. And many of them that carry the sickle cell trait will not know that they carry the sickle cell trait. So having either sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait increases substantially the risk for developing RMC. And why does that happen? It happens because when you carry either the sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease, your red blood cells -- these are the cells in the blood that carry oxygen -- normally, they will have this round shape, but if you have the sickle cell disease that shape is changed, it's like a sickle, it changed to the form of a sickle.

Dr. Pavlos Msaouel:
If you have the sickle cell disease that will happen everywhere in your body. If you have the sickle cell trait, then your red blood cells will look normal in most areas of your body. However, there is one area in the kidney called the medulla of the kidney where the cells will look sickles whether you have sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease. And to our understanding, having these cells that look like sickles in the medulla damages the medulla in a way that increases the risk for developing this cancer. So RMC stands for renal medullary carcinoma and the medullary part in the middle of the name means that it comes from the medulla.


Rebecca Law

Rebecca graduated from University of San Francisco with a degree in applied economics, focusing on marketing, program management and event management. Her experience is unmatched when it comes to aligning program scope with strategic business objectives. Rebecca has an extensive background in managing marketing campaigns and is highly skilled at communicating with a variety of audiences.

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