The health condition of the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizodiagnosed with intermediate-risk myelodysplastic syndrome, generated expectations due to the importance that he may have in his functions, almost two years before the end of his mandate.
It is a disease that can affect one and up to three cell lines in a patient (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets) and transform into leukemia in the highest risk cases, explained the doctor Dimas Quiel of the Hematology Oncology Center of Panama.
The higher the risk, the shorter the time in which the syndrome can transform into leukemia, which dramatically changes life expectancy, which can be estimated at less than six months.
The mielodisplasia (MDS) It is the structural alteration of the bone marrow cells that give rise to blood cells. Normally, all people when we get older will develop dysplasias in some cells of the bone marrow, and it is estimated that over the age of 70 most patients will have changes, but it does not mean that they will develop myelodysplastic syndrome.
Myelodysplastic syndrome occurs when the damage compromises the largest number of cells or the blood factory. If it affects the red blood cells anemia occurs, the patient will feel tired, fatigued, dispirited, with palpitations, breathing difficulties or difficulties in carrying out some physical activities; if it compromises the platelet series will have manifestations of bleeding and bruising; if it compromises white blood cells You will be at risk of infection.
This disease has few effective therapeutic alternatives, with medications that control it but rarely cure it. Therefore, patients who are in good health are offered bone marrow transplantation.
Low-risk patients may rely on stimulators or medications to help red blood cell productionbut as it progresses to intermediate and high risk, the treatments are more aggressive.’
patients or more per 100 thousand inhabitants per year, is the prevalence, according to international publications.
years, is the average in Panama, one of the most common hematological diseases.
Patients with some type of intermediate riskas is the case with Cortizo, can respond to oral or subcutaneous treatments, or necessarily go to a transplant, he explained.
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Who maintains that the intermediate risk patient is in a gray area, and its treatment will depend on specialized molecular studies, to guarantee the best survival from the disease without compromising quality of life.
Specialists recommended the president Cortizo a second evaluation, with examinations of molecular biology, which will be held in Houston, Texas. The last examination carried out on the president showed a decrease in hemoglobin and in the count of white blood cells.
Quiel also cited the adverse effects of valid treatments for myelodysplastic syndrome. Aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy generally result in hair loss, nausea, vomiting, decreased defenses, difficulties in leading a normal life, disabilities and short hospital stays.
Meanwhile, less aggressive treatments will allow for a better quality of life, with some manageable side effects that won’t interrupt your daily activities, he explained.
Cortizo is subject, every six months, to routine and complete blood tests, official sources indicated.
MDS in Panama
Panama does not have clear data on the incidence or prevalence of diseaseand as in many countries, it is handled with international references, Quiel indicated.
The country has technologies to carry out genetic studies on chromosomes and bone marrow, but not with molecular panels. He maintains that there are teams in the country to carry them out that still require external validation. Day by day, Panama sends the molecular panels to be made in the United States.
Treatments are expensive, although Social Security Fund and the Oncology Institute they have some medications, there is the transplant option, but the database is too small to guarantee a donor. Other medicines are not in public facilities, some are not registered in Panama and others will depend on importation, pointed out the specialist from the Hemato-Oncology Center of Panama.
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