Q&A: On Transforming Diagnosis, Treatment and Follow-Up Care for Hematological Cancers
A conversation with Dr. Anand Karnad about hematological cancers, and research, treatment and patient care at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Anand Karnad, MD, joined the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, in 2004. His clinical practice and research focuses on malignant disorders of the blood, lymph nodes and marrow with special expertise in geriatric hematology-oncology. He also treats blood issues unrelated to cancer. Dr. Karnad serves as professor of medicine and director for the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training Program at UT Health San Antonio.
Q: What sets Mays Cancer Center apart from other cancer centers?
Dr. Anand Karnad: At the Mays Cancer Center, you can receive some of today’s leading cancer treatments, delivered by highly experienced medical professionals who are renowned experts in their field. Our multidisciplinary team and focused approach allow us to provide precise care for all types of common and rare cancers.
The Mays Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Center in Central and South Texas.
Q: The blood cancer or hematologic malignancies program at the Mays Cancer Center is one of the nation’s best. What distinguishes it?
Dr. Anand Karnad: Fighting cancer demands a team approach involving team science that translates discoveries in the laboratory to teams delivering new treatments to the bedside of the patient. At the Mays Cancer Center, we work directly with clinical investigators, doctors, nurses and a broad array of professionals to deliver the treatment that is best for the patient’s needs and preferences.
Our hematology and oncology cancer team includes:
- Expert hematologists, with board certification and advanced fellowship training in hematology and oncology, who are experienced in caring for patients with blood cancers that many doctors rarely see. Other oncology practices refer complex cases to us for our expertise in treating Langerhans cell histiocytosis and other rare cancers.
- Pathologists specializing in hematology, who analyze a cancer’s molecular, genetic and other details to confirm diagnosis and inform treatment.
- Radiation oncologists offering the innovative radiation therapies with minimal side effects.
- Support professionals, such as dietitians, social workers and pain management specialists, who manage treatment side effects and other challenges that cancer treatment can cause.
We are also committed to helping patients and families cope with the emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis.
Q: What blood cancers do you treat at the Mays Cancer Center?
Dr. Anand Karnad: We treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, myeloproliferative neoplasms and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Q: What can patients expect when they arrive for a diagnosis or treatment of leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma?
Dr. Anand Karnad: We want to make sure that, at the Mays Cancer Center, patients understand they are not alone in this journey. When a patient is first diagnosed with cancer, they are assigned to a patient navigator and the patient’s case is then presented to the center’s multidisciplinary care team.
For each patient with a blood cancer, we quickly create a personalized treatment plan by performing specialized molecular and genetic tests. Then, when needed, we can perform procedures, such as lymph node and bone marrow biopsies.
We also recognize that certain blood cancers have an increased risk of recurrence. That’s why we follow patients closely in the months and years after they complete treatment. We coordinate with a patient’s primary care team to provide the cancer care patients need moving forward.
Q: How is care for adolescents and young adults with blood cancers specialized at the Mays Cancer Center?
Dr. Anand Karnad: Adolescents and young adults often require frequent monitoring that’s only available in the hospital. They receive inpatient care from our partners at University Health through its adolescent and young adult inpatient center, which is among the few in Texas dedicated to adolescents and young adults with cancer. The goal of this center is to is reduce the stress of treatment to improve outcomes. Patients staying at the center get to experience the relaxing environment of their patient lounge area that features massage chairs and video games to pass the time during their stay.
Q: What kind of immunotherapy does the Mays Cancer Center offer patients with leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma?
Dr. Anand Karnad: Research surrounding immunotherapy has evolved at a fast pace. Doctors still have much to learn about precisely how immunotherapies work and which patients will benefit. Our scientists follow leading evidence to offer patients advanced therapies. We explore immunotherapy treatment options not widely available at other cancer centers in the region and we participate in national and local clinical trials that expand treatment options for eligible patients.
Q: What does the future look like for advanced cancer treatment in South Texas?
Dr. Anand Karnad: There are two exciting new developments. First, UT Health San Antonio has received a $6 million academic research grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas to build a world-class team focusing on the issue of DNA repair. Alexander Mazin, a biochemist and cancer biologist, is setting up the research lab to work on DNA repair at the Mays Cancer Center.
Second, UT Health San Antonio recently broke ground on the UT Health San Antonio Multispecialty and Research Hospital. This will be a destination center for research and treatment of cancer and other complex diseases that disproportionately affect the people of South Texas.
For Patient Referral
For established and new patient appointments, call 210-450-1000.
You can also submit new patient referrals to MaysCCReferral@uthscsa.edu.
For referral to specific cancer-care programs, click here.
About UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center
The Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, is one of only four National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Centers in Texas and the only center in Central and South Texas. The Mays Cancer Center provides leading-edge cancer care, propels innovative cancer research and educates the next generation of clinicians to decrease the burden of cancer in San Antonio, South Texas and beyond. To learn more, visit cancer.uthscsa.edu.