Blood Cancer Awareness Month: Understanding treatment options

While there are no effective blood cancer early prevention screening programs, treatment has advanced over the years.

Nearly 1.3 million people in the United States are in remission or in treatment for blood cancer, according to Methodist Healthcare.

Nearly 1.3 million people in the United States are in remission or in treatment for blood cancer, according to Methodist Healthcare.

September is designated as Blood Cancer Awareness Month to show support to those diagnosed with the disease and raise awareness.

While there are no effective blood cancer screening programs for early prevention and detection, treatment has advanced over the years.

Dr. Paul Shaughnessy with the Transplant and Cellular Therapy program at Methodist Hospital says there are cutting-edge treatment options available in San Antonio.

“One of the main cancers we treat is the acute leukemias. And so we offer treatment to all patients here in Bexar County and all surrounding areas, actually. We provide advanced treatment to these very aggressive and life-threatening cancers,” Shaughnessy said.

Shaughnessy says Methodist Healthcare is the only transplant program in South Texas to offer these services, with over 30 years offering care. Methodist treats other leukemias, lymphomas, and multiple myelomas with bone marrow stem cell transplants.

“We can do high doses of chemotherapy and give other donor cells to these patients to recover their bone marrow and provide immunotherapy against their cancer. Or sometimes we can collect their own stem cells and then deliver high doses of chemotherapy and give their own stem cells back to help them beat these cancers and provide these life saving treatments for these patients,” Shaughnessy said.

One of the advanced therapies offered to patients with blood cancer is CAR-T. CAR-T stands for chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy.

“T cells are immune cells. We’re able to get these cells from patients and genetically engineer them to then target their cancers, give them back them, and these genetically engineered chimeric antigen receptor T cells can then fight their cancer in a very powerful way. More powerful than even chemotherapy, or doing a bone marrow transplant,” Shaughnessy said.

Methodist Healthcare has partnered with Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute to redefine cancer care across the U.S. and U.K. Methodist’s oncologists and hematologists are highly trained to diagnose and treat all types of blood cancers.

For more information on Methodist Healthcare, you can visit their website at SAHealth.com.