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Blood Cancer Breakthroughs with Dr. Jason Melear

February 25, 2020

When it comes to the future of blood cancer treatment, targeted therapies take the lead. Jason Melear, M.D., medical oncologist and hematologist at Texas Oncology–Austin Midtown, provides an in-depth look at recent treatment developments for patients with blood cancers. 

Every day, researchers, scientists, and medical experts work toward advancements in cancer treatment. As an oncologist specializing in hematology, I’m encouraged by the promising developments in targeted therapies for patients with blood cancers, including Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

So, what are targeted therapies? They are different from conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy in that they are designed to treat only the cancer cells, minimizing damage to normal, healthy cells. They do this by targeting and attacking the cancer cells.

Below are several of the latest treatment options making it possible to target and eliminate cancer cells in patients with blood cancers.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor – T Cell (CAR-T)

A type of immunotherapy, CAR-T therapy uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Genetically engineered immune T cells can recognize certain proteins on cancer cells. To target the cancerous cells, white blood cells are extracted, modified, and replicated from those proteins on the cancerous cells, then injected into the patient so they can recognize and attack the cancer. This is a highly targeted therapy for eligible patients, and oncologists and hematologists are keeping a close eye on further developments in CAR-T.

As an oncologist specializing in blood cancer, it is gratifying to see the tremendous progress made in recent years and to guide my patients through these new treatment regimens – offering fewer side effects for patients, better chances for good outcomes, and greater quality of life.”

Monoclonal Antibodies

Antibodies are proteins that are considered a form of immunotherapy. Administered through a vein, antibodies for cancer treatment can be used on their own or in combination with chemotherapy to target cancer cells while preserving the healthy cells. Antibodies essentially latch onto cancer cells and kill them at the source. This form of treatment has shown to be less harsh on the patient’s body and with fewer side effects than treatments like conventional chemotherapy and radiation.

Oral Therapy (Targeted Agents)

Another type of targeted therapy is in the form of a pill taken orally to target cancers like chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This cancer occurs most frequently in older adults and grows slowly, making it difficult to treat with conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The use of oral therapy has also been successful in patients with AML.

A combination of conventional and targeted therapies is an option for patients who may not be eligible for immunotherapies like CAR-T and targeted oral agents. As an oncologist specializing in blood cancer, it is gratifying to see the tremendous progress made in recent years and to guide my patients through these new treatment regimens – offering fewer side effects for patients, better chances for good outcomes, and greater quality of life.


For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.