Gain of chromosome 1q (+1q) is one of the most common recurrent cytogenetic abnormalities in multiple myeloma (MM), occurring in approximately 40% of newly diagnosed cases. Although it is often considered a poor prognostic marker in MM, +1q has not been uniformly adopted as a high-risk cytogenetic abnormality in guidelines. Controversy exists regarding the importance of copy number, as well as whether +1q is itself a driver of poor outcomes or merely a common passenger genetic abnormality in biologically unstable disease. Although the identification of a clear pathogenic mechanism from +1q remains elusive, many genes at the 1q21 locus have been proposed to cause early progression and resistance to anti-myeloma therapy. The plethora of potential drivers suggests that +1q is not only a causative factor or poor outcomes in MM but may be targetable and/or predictive of response to novel therapies. This review will summarize our current understanding of the pathogenesis of +1q in plasma cell neoplasms, the impact of 1q copy number, identify potential genetic drivers of poor outcomes within this subset, and attempt to clarify its clinical significance and implications for the management of patients with multiple myeloma.
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