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UNM Cancer Center Designated As Center Of Excellence For Blood Disorders

UNM Cancer Center Designated As Center Of Excellence For Blood Disorders

Designation Places UNM Cancer Center In Listing Of International Referral Sites

The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center has received designation as a Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation Center of Excellence. The designation puts UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center on the MDS Foundation’s list of international sites where people with blood disorders may go to receive treatment. The designation also gives the UNM Cancer Center access to more clinical trials for blood disorders.

Myelodysplastic syndromes result from failure of the bone marrow to produce blood cells. Bone marrow produces red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. All travel in the blood and each type of cell performs certain tasks.

According to Cecilia Arana Yi, a doctor at the UNM Cancer Center, myelodysplastic syndromes are a set of conditions in which the bone marrow does not produce one of more types of blood cells. As a heterogeneous disease, patients have different outcomes.

She says that some people fail to produce one type of blood cell and may need mild treatment. Others, though, fail to produce more than one type of blood cell or develop life-threatening acute leukemia. Treatment for these high-risk conditions includes blood transfusions, said Arana Yi in a press release. Blood transfusions can come with unwanted side effects such as increased blood iron levels or liver and heart problems.

The Center of Excellence designation allows the UNM Cancer Center to take part in clinical trials offered by the MDS Foundation. “We’ll get access to protocols that are for cancer centers that are experts in MDS,” said Arana Yi. “We’ll be able to provide patients with better options to improve outcomes: [longer] survival, decrease transfusion dependency, better quality of life.”

The UNM Cancer Center offers clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. It has a team of hematology oncologists who specialize in treating blood cancers and other blood disorders. And it conducts and publishes research in myelodysplastic syndromes. All were important to achieving the Center of Excellence designation.

To be recognized as a Center of Excellence, an institution must have: an established university (or equivalent) program; recognized morphologic expertise in MDS; available cytogenetics and/or molecular genetics; ongoing research, including Institutional Review Board-approved clinical trials; and documentation of peer-reviewed publications in the field.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.