What exactly does a 17p deletion mean?

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Question from Sherry:

What is 17p? What exactly does a 17p deletion mean? Does it mean you are missing 17p, or does it mean there is something wrong with it? The word "deletion" is confusing. My FISH report shows 17p-(TP53x1) result as normal.

Dr. Leclair:

You have 46 chromosomes—22 pairs of chromosomes that influence the body as a whole and one pair that determines and regulated gender.

You have a problem with one of the number 17 chromosomes. Chromosomes look like an X
An X with a smaller upper half and a large bottom half. The smaller top part is designated as p.

So a portion of the upper part of chromosome 17 is missing. When you look more closely at the chromosome, you see that the arms of the X have lighter and darker areas and specific information can be found in each of these bands. Here is a drawing of one side of a 17 chromosome and you can see the bands. Within the bands are genes so if you have deleted (lost) a portion, those genes are no longer present. 

Within the band that you are missing is a gene that allows the cell to recognize and eliminate cells that don't make the quality grade. It is called p53 and is in a class of genes called tumor suppressor genes. You are missing that, so your cells are unable to use this pathway to prevent and control any malignant cells. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Have a question for the experts? Send them to questions@patientpower.info.

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Page last updated on April 25, 2019