Hairy cell leukaemia is a rare form of blood cancer that causes the bone marrow to produce too many white blood cells or lymphocytes. The disease was named as such due to the unique hairy appearance of the excess white blood cells when examined under a microscope. Although slow-growing, the disease is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Patients with hairy cell leukaemia require both oncologic treatment and long-term care, which are both widely available in Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia boasts an impressive healthcare infrastructure that is comparable to those in the US and UK. The region is best known for offering world-class treatments for both common and chronic conditions including cancer. In fact, oncology is one of the region’s top specialties.
Countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and more recently, Malaysia, have been gaining worldwide recognition in the field of medical tourism. They have greatly revolutionised the Southeast Asian healthcare system by introducing newer technologies and streamlining the whole medical tourism process for international patients.
Thailand has several world-class oncology centres and one of the best is Bumrungrad International Hospital’s Horizon Regional Cancer Center. It features state-of-the-art digital imaging that ensures precise diagnoses, combined with the latest innovations in cancer treatment such as high-powered radiation and other similar alternatives to the conventional, high-risk chemotherapy. The centre is also home to multidisciplinary teams of highly reputable and internationally trained medical oncologists, bone marrow specialists, radiation oncologists, and paediatric oncologists, among others.
Malaysia, for its part, has invested in a stem cell centre, which is a good place to start if patients are considering hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. This revolutionary cancer treatment, which can be performed in the form of peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT) or bone marrow transplantation (BMT), is most effective for leukaemia and bone marrow cancers such as hairy cell leukaemia.
The availability of breakthrough technologies in oncology coupled with the lower costs of healthcare in the region are just some of the benefits that patients with hairy cell leukaemia get to enjoy when they travel to Southeast Asia for treatment.