Myeloproliferative disorders refer to conditions that cause an abnormal growth of blood cells and platelets in the bone marrow. Such disorders are serious as they have a major impact on the patient’s general health and immune system. The main types of myeloproliferative disorders include polycythemia vera, essential thrombocytosis, primary or idiopathic myelofibrosis, and chronic myelogenous leukaemia; all are different forms of cancers that affect the bone marrow.
The main challenge in managing these disorders begins in the diagnosis stage, as many hospitals are not equipped to diagnose, let alone treat, these disorders. This creates a need for patients to travel abroad to have their conditions diagnosed or managed.
Many hospitals in Southeast Asian countries, specifically Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, now offer an advanced diagnostic test known as cytogenetic analysis, which views the patient’s blood or bone marrow under a microscope to check for chromosomal changes. This is the most effective way to diagnose any myeloproliferative disorder. These countries also offer specialist care for the management of the condition; thanks to their long list of physicians who specialise in bone marrow disorders. These specialists have the necessary training and expertise to create an individualised treatment plans, which may include medical therapy and other innovative treatments, such as myelosuppressive therapy, targeted therapy, biologic therapy, donor lymphocyte infusion, and high-dose chemo with stem cell transplant. For severe cases, a bone marrow and stem cell transplant is the most promising option.
All of these innovative medical advances are widely available in Southeast Asia. Malaysia, for one, has been involved in stem cell therapy as early as 2006 and now has a dedicated research centre called Stem Cell Malaysia. While the cost of stem cell treatments is skyrocketing in Western hospitals, patients who travel to Malaysia can access the same advanced therapies at half the price they would pay when they go to the US or Europe. The Malaysian government is also actively expanding its public cord blood bank and local donor registry to aid in bone marrow transplantation.
Thus, for breakthrough therapies for the treatment of myeloproliferative disorders, the best option for patients nowadays is to travel to Southeast Asia. Aside from Malaysia, countries such as Thailand and Singapore also have highly advanced healthcare systems, Joint Commission International (JCI) and International Standards Organisation (ISO) accredited hospitals, and internationally trained specialists who can provide them with the highest level of care that meets global standards.