We share a summary of Dr Daryl Tan’s article featured in the Business Times, Feb 2012

New drug discoveries are creating a big paradigm shift in how some blood cancers are being treated today. With the acceleration of new drug discoveries and targeted drugs such as those for cancer, more and more diseases which used to be terminal are now being “converted” into chronic ones; meaning that one could possibly live with the disease for a long time. The wide range of novel drugs now available for blood cancer like lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma tend to respond better compared to solid tumors.

Blood cancer in Singapore

Blood cancers are considered rare, as they rank among the ninth and 10th in the list of most common cancers. Of that, multiple myeloma is the second most common, affecting one person per 100,000. In Singapore, we see about 80 to 100 new cases a year. Myeloma incidents are rising mainly because of earlier detection and an aging population. It is not uncommon for asymptomatic patients to be diagnosed when they go for their regular health screening, and show an abnormal blood profile.  Novel drugs to treat myeloma now could possibly prolong the remission period.

New drugs for Blood Cancer Treatment

One of the new drugs, Revlimid (lenalido-mide), approved by Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA), is a potent drug that interrupts the cancer cell growth and also enhances the body’s own immune system. In its latest study, the oral tablet was shown to have a 60-70 percent reduction in risk of disease progression, and the survival period was extended from 12 months to 31 months. With more novel drugs coming onstream, there is definitely a big paradigm shift in blood cancer treatment today. Traditionally, conventional drugs kill cells indiscriminately, resulting in collateral damages to normal healthy tissues as well. But now the drug approach is more targeted, and for incurable blood cancers, the idea is to prolong remission or delay relapse with minimal side effects.

As drugs are also being developed with genetic profiling in mind, it is even more likely that incurable blood cancers in future can be treated and managed as a chronic disease.

Dr Daryl Tan

Dr Daryl Tan is an experienced haematologist who specialises in the treatment of blood cancers, including lymphoma, multiple myeloma, leukaemia, and myeloproliferative neoplasms. He also has expertise in diagnosing and treating bleeding disorders and general haematological conditions.

Seeking medical advice for your blood cancer or haematological condition? Contact Dr Daryl Tan today.

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