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Doctors perform ‘India’s first Total Marrow Irradiation Procedure’ to save Omani patient from blood cancer

Doctors at the cancer centre in Chennai Photograph:( WION )

WION Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India May 15, 2019, 09.51 PM (IST) Written By: Sidharth MP

Indian doctors performed a sophisticated medical procedure known as "Total Marrow Irradiation"(TMI), conditioning protocol prior to bone marrow transplant, in order to treat a 35-year-old Omani patient who was battling for life with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), which is a rare blood cell cancer that begins in the bone marrow. 

Doctors at Chennai’s Apollo Proton Cancer Centre in Chennai have termed it "India’s first total marrow irradiation procedure". The hospital says that India is the third country to perform this procedure after the USA and Italy.

The patient, Fatima, an Omani nurse, was diagnosed with the third and last stage of blood cancer. Her white blood cells (WBC) count had shot up to over a lakh, whereas the ideal count was between four thousand and eleven thousand. 

After diagnosis, she underwent two cycles of chemotherapy at her home country and came to India to continue treatment. For three days, from April 18th to 20th, she underwent total marrow irradiation and it was followed up with two days of chemotherapy. On April 23rd, the blood cell transplantation was performed. 

Dr. Jose M Easow, senior Oncologist of Apollo hospitals said: "The patient’s brother turned out to be a full-matched donor. The patient has responded well to the treatment and is getting ready for discharge."

Speaking on how the TMI is different when compared to the conventional total body radiation, Dr. Srinivas Chilukuri, senior consultant radiation oncology said that when the whole body is irradiated, it can cause long-term side effects such as damage to the eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys and intestines. Whereas in the case of TMI a higher dose can be delivered to the bone marrow, thus sparing the normal organs.

While the patient has completed treatment, she must undergo periodic check-ups every three to six months. Doctors say that when cancer is detected at an early stage and at a young age it can be much easier to cure. When cured at a young age, patients can live a normal life of up to 70-80 years, they added.