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Translocation means a change in location. It usually refers to genetics, when part of a chromosome is transferred to another chromosome. Chromosomes are structures that carry genes, our units of heredity. When this type of translocation occurs, it can cause flaws in chromosomes.

In another type of translocation, 2 chromosomes trade pieces with each other.

Genetic translocations can cause serious disorders, including a type of leukemia.


Perkins JA. Diseases of white blood cells, lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC, eds. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 13.

Review Date 8/14/2015

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.