With advances in medicine, treatment of critical illness become more clinically effective. Many patients are cured or in complete remission and can live a normal life. These also include patients with blood cancer or hematologic malignancies such as acute leukemia, the most dangerous cancer.
As the leading cancer hospital in Thailand, Wattanosoth hospital provides stem cell transplantation for patients with various types of blood cancers. However, not all patients will have a perfectly matched donor. Recent medical advances have made the use of a partially matched or haploidentical related donor possible. A haploidentical related donor is usually a 50% match to the recipient. This increases the chance of finding a donor as almost everyone has at least one half-matched relative. “In the past 5-10 years, improvements in medical treatment made it possible to cure various types of hematologic malignancies. Also, patient’s quality of life is much better.
In recent years, targeted therapy or new drugs that target specific parts of cancer cells have been developed. Also, advances of stem cell transplantation in acute leukemia made it possible to cure the disease. Acute leukemia can progress quickly and if not treated, would probably be fatal within six months.
Treatment options for acute leukemia are chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation. Chemotherapy will be used to kill most of the leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow, and stem cell transplant will be used following to restore normal blood cell production. In the past, the donor has to be brothers or sisters who have the 100% matched Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA). With technological advancement, nowadays the donor could be HLA-haploidentical (50% matched) such as parents, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. Moreover, unrelated stem cell donor can be sought through Thai Red Cross from the donor list. The advantage of having a haploidentical transplant is that it increases the chance of finding a donor, thereby allowing transplants to be done in a more timely way.
Wattanosoth hospital is a leader in haploidentical stem cell transplantation. Our experts perform the procedures more than any other center each year. Our doctors are experts in monitoring and managing graft versus host disease, a condition that can arise from stem cell transplantation. This significantly reduces the failure and mortality rate.” Prof. Dr. Surapol Issaragrisil explained.
In addition to providing innovative treatments, Wattanosoth hospital is a one stop service center for cancer treatment, as our specialists work together as a multidisciplinary team to provide the best possible care for the patients. “Normally, a patient with blood cancer has multiple disorders. A hematologist, the main care provider, will coordinate with other specialists in order to pinpoint each patient’s unique cancer and tailor treatment for the best possible outcome.”
A diagnosis of cancer may be devastating for both patients and their families. Psychological and emotional support are also available. “This is a fatal disease. It is important to learn enough about it. The patient and everyone in the family need to understand how to cope with the disease. There is a seminar between patients, nurses, doctors, and hospital staffs for experience sharing on coping with the cancer and how to adapt yourself and make it through the critical period. This year we organized this event during 26th-27th March and there were 10 families joining us. These are patients who are currently receiving the treatment or already cured. For those who are interested, there is also information about the event on the hospital’s social media and website.”
Moreover, Prof. Dr. Surapol Issaragrisil inspires his patients to think positively. “Most patients thought that cancer is due to bad luck. However, cancer also teaches you valuable life lessons. It makes you remember what matters most, who you want to spend time with, and what you can do to give back to the community. Cancer also makes you stop and think that it is time to take good care of yourself and your love ones. “For example, I have a patient who spend time creating a screen reading software for the blind during his recovery time after the stem cell transplantation. This changes his life completely. In addition, there are many patients who shared with me that cancer changed their lives for the better. Therefore, I want to share with you some of their messages to inspire those who are fighting cancer and their families.”
“It taught me to prioritize myself. Before having cancer, my priorities were to achieve success, wealth, and being accepted by others. After overcoming cancer, these are not the most important things anymore. I learned to appreciate the little things in life. Things that I used to overlook.”
“Having cancer is life-changing, your whole world becomes bigger. There are things that are more important in life than success. I was in the USA for 10 years and never knew what I have lost along the way. Cancer changed my world and my life perspective. The person I am today is far better due to my ability to overcome cancer.”
“When I was sick, I spent time thinking a lot about what really matters most. When I assessed the life I had lived the only thing that really appeared was the people who had been in it. Now I will never let myself lose sight of their values ever again. I hug my kids regularly these days. It is as if I want them to know what their value is, just in case I do not get the chance to tell them again. People are the most precious commodity of all.”
Wattanosoth hospital aims to provide both advanced medical treatment and emotional support for patients along their treatment journey. These are important for successful cancer treatment.
At Wattanosoth hospital, treating cancer is not just a part of what we do, it is all we do. Expert care means treating the cancer while compassionately caring for the person fighting it.
Prof. Dr. Surapol Issaragrisil
A director of Bangkok Hematology Center, Wattanosoth Hospital