New Treatments for Cancer and Blood Disorders

 In Cancer Treatment, Hematology

The medical community continuously seeks to discover new cancer treatments and blood disorder treatments. New therapies work best when doctors listen, diagnose correctly and find the best treatment for patients.

Personalized Hematology-Oncology takes advancing medical treatments for the good of our patients seriously. Our practice stays on the cutting edge of new treatments. We have recently introduced new therapies for ovarian cancer and for a rare blood disorder. Both have provided our patients with positive results.

New cancer treatment offers ovarian cancer patients longer lives

A new drug called Elahere (mirvetuximab soravtansine-gynx) treats platinum-resistant ovarian cancer and extends patients’ lives. Clinical trial results found Elahere slowed disease progression or death by 35 percent over standard chemotherapy.

Patients diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer usually have surgery and then receive platinum-based chemotherapy and maintenance therapy. Unfortunately, in more than 70 percent of cases, patients develop a resistance to platinum-based treatment.

Elahere provides new and better treatment options for these platinum-resistant patients. It also potentially minimizes side effects and reduces toxicity when compared to standard chemotherapy.

Elahere is the first drug that gives an overall survival advantage to platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patients. Notably, it is also the first approved therapy for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer since 2014.

Personalized Hematology-Oncology recently began using Elahere for ovarian cancer patients. Based on our experiences and patient feedback, this new cancer treatment is working well.

Diagnosing a rare blood disorder

Less than 16 people out of one million around the world have paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, or PNH. With a disease this rare, finding a specialist who can diagnose and accurately treat the disease is a great gift.

Personalized Hematology-Oncology specializes in diagnosing uncommon conditions like PNH. We offer a new blood disorder treatment that has been very effective. We are currently treating two PNH patients, one of whom we diagnosed in our clinic following a bone marrow biopsy. The other patient came to us via referral.

PNH is a rare blood disorder and genetic flaw beginning in bone marrow. It causes part of the immune system to attack and damage red blood cells and platelets.

In normal red blood cells, a protective shield wards off white blood cell proteins that fight infection and occasionally attack red blood cells. In people with PNH, however, a genetic mutation in the bone marrow creates abnormal red blood cells and platelets. These abnormal red blood cells and platelets do not have protective shields.

When the white blood cell proteins or “complement system” attacks the red blood cells, they fall apart and release hemoglobin. This causes a chain reaction of events that stress the body, damages kidneys, makes blood clot more than it should, and more.

People with PNH complain of:

  • Severe fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Esophageal spasms
  • Stomach pain
  • Back pain
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Red, brown or dark urine late at night or in the early morning

If left untreated, PNH can cause anemia, kidney disease or blood clots (thrombosis). Forty percent of PNH patients have thrombosis during their disease. According to the National Library of Medicine, thrombosis is the most common cause of death for PNH patients.

New blood disorder treatment offers promise

After listening to patients’ symptoms, our team evaluated new treatment therapies called complement inhibitors. These therapies prevent the complement system from destroying red blood cells. Outcomes from complement inhibitors have been positive. They have enabled patients to live longer and have a better quality of life.

Personalized Hematology-Oncology chose the following new blood disorder therapies to treat our patients.

  • Soliris (or eculizumab) has reduced transfusions by 50 percent and blood clots by 70 percent. It has also reduced blood vessel and lymph node complications. People using this therapy sometimes have breakthrough fatigue and red blood cell destruction, but it is a helpful treatment for PNH. We currently have one patient using this therapy.
  • To address the shortfalls of eculizumab, researchers created another therapy called Ultomiris (or ravulizumab). This newer drug lasts longer and is cheaper than eculizumab, but no long-term data is available yet. Ravulizumab also has side effects, so weighing the potential benefits versus side effects is important. One of our patients underwent this therapy and it cured the disease.

Empaveli (or pegcetacoplan) is another therapy that researchers have found to increase hemoglobin. This medication is a restricted medication, however. It lowers the immune system’s ability to fight infections and increases the risk of serious, life-threatening infections. Our practice does not currently use this treatment.

Best outcomes occur with a good patient-physician relationship

Often, patients must wade through red tape in large health systems to obtain a diagnosis. Sometimes the diagnosis isn’t correct and the patient must start over with new specialists.

Personalized Hematology-Oncology specializes in diagnosing and treating uncommon conditions. Our team listens, uses the best technologies, and helps our patients make decisions that are right for them.

New medical breakthroughs for cancer and blood disorders can greatly improve patients’ lives and increase their lifespans. Our approach to using new cancer treatments and blood disorder therapies has resulted in excellent outcomes for our patients.

Contact us to learn more. We will gladly discuss your health concerns and treatment options.

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