Treating Blood Cancer

  6 min 53 sec to read
Treating Blood Cancer

Blood and Multispecialty Hospital has been treating patients suffering from blood cancer of all ages


One winter morning, 26-year-old Raman Sedai woke up drenched in sweat, with his bed sheet and blanket soaked. This continued for months, but he chose to ignore it. Weeks later, during a shower, he felt lumps in his chest and noticed blood patches on his neck and arms. Despite these symptoms, he continued his normal daily life until he started experiencing severe back pain. It was only then that he decided to seek medical attention and visited a nearby hospital for a blood test. The results indicated a possible case of blood cancer.

Sedai quickly made an appointment with Dr Bishesh Poudyal at Blood and Multispecialty Hospital in Dhobighat Rd, Lalitpur, for a consultation. Dr Poudyal and his team conducted some blood tests and discovered that Sedai had acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a critical form of blood cancer that had spread to his brain. After several months of intensive treatment under the care of Dr Poudyal and the team at Blood and Multispecialty Hospital, Sedai is now out of danger.

Dr Bishesh Poudyal, an Associate Professor MBBS, MD, FIHTC, FBMT, FSCT, and a Consultant Hematologist & Bone Marrow Transplant Physician, shares that blood cancers, also known as hematologic malignancies, can be devastating diagnosis for individuals and their loved ones. He emphasises that blood cancer, also referred to as haematological cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the production and function of blood cells. This condition can impact the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system, leading to a wide range of symptoms and complications.

While the exact cause of blood cancer is still unknown, certain risk factors have been identified that increase the likelihood of developing the condition. According to Dr Poudyal, exposure to radiation or certain chemicals, a family history of blood cancer, and chronic bacterial and viral infections are all associated with blood cancer. In particular, radiation is a known cause of cancer. For example, if someone has undergone radiotherapy or chemotherapy for cancer treatment, they may be at a higher risk of developing blood cancer.

In addition to radiation, exposure to certain chemicals can also increase the risk of developing blood cancer. Dr Poudyal notes that Benzene is a chemical that is particularly known to cause cancer.

Other chemicals, such as Aflatoxins, Aristolochic Acids, Arsenic, Asbestos, Benzidine, Beryllium, and 1-3-Butadiene, are associated with various cancer-related diseases.

Genetics and heredity also play a role in the development of blood cancer. Dr Poudyal explains that if an individual's family members have a medical history of blood cancer, there is a higher chance that they may develop the condition as well.
The symptoms of blood cancer can vary depending on the type and stage of cancer. Dr Poudyal notes that some common symptoms include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, frequent infections, night sweats, easy bruising or bleeding, enlarged lymph nodes, and bone and back pain.

It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, in order to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment, emphasises Dr Poudyal.

Acute leukaemia is the leading type of blood cancer worldwide, including in Nepal, according to medical experts.

The number of Nepalis suffering from blood cancer has been gradually increasing, likely due to an increase in individuals seeking diagnosis. In the past, people did not typically go for check-ups, and as a result, many cases of blood cancer went undiagnosed. However, with the development of healthcare infrastructure and the availability of diagnostic centres and pathology services, more people are getting blood checks, leading to more diagnoses of blood cancer.

According to Dr Poudyal, there is no data from the past to compare current rates of blood cancer cases. Additionally, there is no registry of blood test data, and neither the government nor the private sector has maintained any records on this issue.

“However, in my personal experience of working for 15 years in the medical field and looking at the increase in diagnosis centres, the number of cases has grown with the development of health infrastructure,” he added.  

Blood cancer can affect individuals of all age groups, with children, adolescents, and adults having different types of blood cancer. Children are most commonly affected by Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), while individuals above 21 years of age are more likely to have Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). Adults above 35 years are commonly diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), and those above 50 years tend to suffer from Multiple Myeloma.

“However, all these issues can overlap. Individuals at any particular age can develop blood cancer. At some point, they might have a mild level of suffering, at other, they can develop acute symptoms,” he added.

Blood and Multispecialty Hospital has been treating patients suffering from blood cancer of all ages, from 3 years old to 90 years old. Treatment for blood cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the overall health of the patient. Dr Poudyal and his team at Blood and Multispecialty Hospital offer various facilities to cure blood cancer.

At Blood and Multispecialty Hospital, if a patient comes with symptoms that suggest blood cancer, doctors may order blood tests, bone marrow biopsies, or other diagnostic tests to determine if blood cancer is present. If a diagnosis is confirmed, the medical team led by Dr Poudyal will work closely with a team of healthcare providers to determine the most appropriate treatment plan, which may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other targeted therapies.

According to Jeevan Maharjan, information officer of the hospital, the hospital provides 24/7 emergency services on call, as well as 24-hour laboratory services with qualified and skilled medical personnel.

Dr Poudyal and the medical team at Blood and Multispecialty Hospital are equipped to treat all kinds of blood diseases and leukaemia with 24/7 inpatient care, chemotherapy, daycare service, and therapeutic and diagnostic bone marrow tests.

The hospital is set to offer the most affordable bone marrow transplant service in the world, in addition to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant, and immunotherapy.

As for the adequacy of health infrastructure in Nepal to handle blood cancer cases, Poudyal notes that treatment for blood cancer has been available in Nepal for a long time. Patients can receive chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants within the country. Moreover, the Chinese Government is aiding the Nepal Government with more advanced blood cancer treatments. China is providing Nepal with a medical facility to perform CAR T Cell therapy treatment, he adds.

CAR T Cell treatment involves changing a patient's T cells, a type of immune system cell, in the laboratory so that they can target and attack cancer cells. T cells are taken from the patient's blood, and the gene for a specific receptor that binds to a particular protein in the patient's cancer cells is added to the T cells in the laboratory. CAR T-cell therapy is used to treat specific blood cancers and is also being studied for the treatment of other types of cancer. It is also known as chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy.

There is no specific known cause of blood cancer, although an unhealthy lifestyle, such as smoking and drinking habits, may increase the risk of developing it. While living with blood cancer can be challenging, support from loved ones, healthcare providers, and patient advocacy organisations can help individuals manage this difficult journey.

Blood cancer is a serious condition that can significantly impact a person's health and quality of life. However, with early detection and appropriate treatment, many people can manage this condition and continue to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

Receiving a blood cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing event for an individual. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly if any symptoms are experienced, emphasises Dr Poudyal.

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