Talking myelodysplastic syndrome with Dr Melita Kenealy
Dr Melita Kenealy covered the basics of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), current treatments and living with the disease when she spoke at the Leukaemia Foundation’s Blood Cancer Conference (Melbourne, October 2018).
A consultant haematologist at Cabrini Hospital (Melbourne), Dr Kenealy has an active research interest in MDS and runs Australia-wide clinical trials looking to pioneer new and improved treatments.
At the conference, she spoke about azacitidine (Vidaza®), the first treatment available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in Australia for high-risk MDS, and the potential of targeted therapies in the future.
“We’re learning a lot about the bone marrow in MDS and different faults that can happen in some of the genes and chromosomes that cause the disease,” said Dr Kenealy.
“That means we can start to develop targeted treatments for those specific abnormalities.
“At the moment we’re learning about these gene faults and a few drugs are coming out on clinical trials and gradually becoming available that will be relevant for some sub-types of MDS.”
She said MDS was a difficult disease to understand and highlighted the importance of people learning about their disease.
“The Leukaemia Foundation has a great website,” said Dr Kenealy.
She talked about blood transfusions for people with anaemia or low red blood cell counts and the most common question patients ask her is: “at what blood level or haemoglobin level should I have a transfusion?”.
“There’s really no one answer,” Dr Kenealy said, “because it’s an individualised decision that depends on how people feel and what other medical conditions they may have.”
That depends on how people feel and what other medical conditions they may have.”
To listen to the audio of Dr Melita Kenealy’s entire presentation, click here.