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Finding Genius Podcast

Oct 6, 2023

Imagine feeling perfectly healthy and heading to your doctor for a simple cholesterol check, only to be told your blood work indicates that you may have an extremely rare, aggressive form of cancer. This is how most people are diagnosed with T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL).

Dr. Marco Herling specializes in this type of cancer and shares his insights with listeners.

Press play to learn:

  • The difference between leukemia and lymphoma
  • How the study of T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) has led to a change in its name, and why it matters
  • The most common physiological findings in patients who end up with a T-PLL diagnosis
  • Why T-PLL is mostly a disease of the elderly, and the one exception

Dr. Herling is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Hematopathology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center who was drawn to the study of T-PLL precisely because it is so rare and so understudied. In fact, he explains that most doctors struggle to diagnose it correctly and refer patients to the proper treatment. This lack of understanding exists even in large-volume academic centers and major university hospitals.

In Western and European countries, the incidence of T-PLL is low, at about one to two cases per one million each year. “International networking is of the essence in order to make progress in this disease,” says Dr. Herling.

He explains how T-PLL is generally diagnosed, the signs and symptoms of the disease, theories about why and how it develops, and possible ways to detect and eliminate it earlier on. He also talks about the current efforts being made to further the study and understanding of T-PLL, which hold promise for an eventual effective treatment.

Interested in learning more?

Tune in, and visit

Episode also available on Apple Podcasts: