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How Is Personalized Medicine in MPN Care Influenced by Telemedicine?

How Is Personalized Medicine in MPN Care Influenced by Telemedicine? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

How is MPN personalized medicine impacted by telemedicine? Watch as expert Dr. Jeanne Palmer shares situations where personalized care can aid essential thrombocythemia, myelofibrosis, and polycythemia vera patients, how telemedicine can aid in care, and the value of specialized care.

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Dr. Palmer:

So I think one of the key…so when we look at treating different myeloproliferative neoplasms, you have to take what’s your goal of therapy. So for the ones like essential thrombocythemia, where you have too many platelets, or polycythemia vera, where there’s too many red cells. A lot of times what you’re doing there is you’re just saying, “Well, how can I predict whether you’re going to have a blood clot or something?” Because people can live, these can be fairly chronic diseases that with appropriate therapy, people can live a long time.

So a lot of that’s risk mitigation. Where I think a lot of the personalized aspect of it is coming in is probably in myelofibrosis, which is a disease where I view it as too much inflammation, scar tissue develops in the bone marrow, people could get a large spleen, high white blood cell count. A number of different manifestations. And in that, we’re learning more and more that in addition to the three driver mutations, the JAK2, the MPL, and the calreticulin, there’s probably a whole other group of mutations that can really be used to help us predict and try to take a look into the future to help guide them. And what is the timing for transplant? Should we be more aggressive as we’re getting more and more agents being evaluated and hopefully approved in the treatment of myeloproliferative diseases? Who are the people who should utilize these agents?

Because again, you don’t want to overtreat. And so I think that being able to hone in on these different mutations to be able to help us predict what we think will happen and maybe different treatment options that we would have, that’s going to be important. Now, one of the things that’s really exciting is that some of these companies that actually do this deep sequence, like looking at multiple, multiple genes, actually have mechanisms by which they will send somebody to a person’s house and then draw the blood and take it over and run it. And so I’ve actually had that done before, where somebody I saw via telemedicine, and we really wanted to get that information so I could appropriately advise on what I anticipated was going to happen in the course of the disease.

And we were able to actually get that information through using home care, saying, “I want this order to be done. The home care people went out, drew the blood, sent it to where it needed to go in the right format, and I was able to get that information.” So I think that telemedicine allows them access to people who understand how to interpret that information. But I think we have to give a lot of props to a lot of these companies that are really getting innovative in how they’re capturing the data, saying, no, you know what? You don’t need to have this done in Scottsdale, Arizona or Phoenix, Arizona. You can have this done in your own home and wherever your home happens to be.

So I think that that type of thing is really changing some of how we can utilize that data that’s very personalized, but be able to use it in a telemedicine format where we don’t need people to physically come here to get their blood taken. Now, I do want to add the caveat. There are a number of different institutions have enormous amounts of lab work that’s looking at things above and beyond the approved tests that have been validated and everything. And that would be a lot harder to get. There still are ways of doing that, but I think that we have to acknowledge that there is something that we do lose by doing that. Although I can get a lot of information, be able to provide a lot of input to a patient. It still doesn’t address the fact that by physically being there, sometimes you can get samples that you can biobank and you can send to somebody’s lab. And then these are the people who are discovering the new things that really that’s how we learned what we know so far. Is because somebody went and looked at these genes and more and more and more of this is going on. So I want to temper this with saying not everything can be done by a telemedicine.

That we have to be thoughtful about our approaches and really utilize combining in-person visits along with telemedicine to really do care. And to give an example, what I do for patients is if I follow them by a telemedicine only, I won’t actually be a prescribing doctor. I won’t be a primary provider. I have to at least see them once a year if I’m going to give medicines or do things like that. So I think that there’s a hybrid model that’s going to be really important to do as well for patients who are able to do that.

Lisa Hatfield:

Thanks for that.

Dr. Palmer:

If that makes…yeah.

Lisa Hatfield:

It does make sense. And I just had a quick question too. So if I’m coming in or I’m going to see my…I’m a newly diagnosed MPN patient going into my local oncologist. I’m watching this webinar and I hear, “Oh, if somebody came to my home. I could maybe do telemedicine, or I can have somebody come to my home and take my blood and look at these genetic mutations. My local oncologist doesn’t know exactly how to go about doing that.” Would that be the point where they might try to contact a specialist or go through the consult center through Mayo Clinic or somewhere to say, “Oh, I need a specialist to help me access this type of testing?”

Dr. Palmer:

So I have to be very honest. I just learned about this type of testing in the last year or so. And so it’s something that I’ve started to be able to utilize. With myeloproliferative diseases, I think, and very honestly, and there’s a number of us specialists around the country, I think everyone seeing one at least once in terms of just saying, hey, what’s our plan of care going to be? Are we looking at all the angles of it is a really important thing to do. And I think there’s a number of excellent physicians out there in different parts of the country that some of whom are using telemedicine, some I’m not sure that they are. But I think that getting that specialized opinion is extremely important. I think then in terms of managing care, there’s multiple… There’s multiple ways that can be configured that will help take care of the patient depending on their individual needs and their ability to travel and everything. 

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Is Your Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment Effective?

Is Your Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment Effective? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How can metastatic breast cancer treatment effectiveness be gauged? Dr. Jane Lowe Meisel shares important indicators, including symptom improvement, and discusses periodic testing that can help track a patient’s treatment results.

Jane Lowe Meisel, MD is an Associate Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University. Learn more about Dr. Meisel here.

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We have another question we received earlier, this one from Eileen. She asks, “How will I know whether my treatment is working?”

Dr. Meisel:

That’s a really good question. So, I think for patients who have symptoms from their cancer, they often will know the drug is working because their symptoms improve. Say if you have lung metastases and you are short of breath and your shortness of breath gets better. That’s a really good sign that the treatment is working. I would say that often what we are doing, and it depends a little bit on the regimen and what the patient is getting and how often they’re coming in.

But we’re checking labs as well and sometimes there are lab abnormalities when a patient is diagnosed with metastatic cancer that can then improve over time. So, for example, if someone has a heavy burden of bone involvement with breast cancer, there’s a lab value called the alkaline phosphatases that will often be elevated. If that starts elevated and comes down, that’s a really good sign. And some of their liver function tests that we check and if a patient has liver metastases, we often will see those come down if a patient is responding.

There are also, what we call tumor markers that we can check in patients with metastatic breast cancer. Those would be proteins in the blood basically that can be made by the breast cancer in abundance. And those are called CA27-29 and CA15.3. Some doctors check both of them. Some will just check one depending on which one their laboratory at their institution is running. But typically, I will check those at diagnosis of metastatic disease. And then if it’s elevated, I know it’s a good marker to follow for my patient. And then I’ll follow that monthly or every three weeks, depending on when the patient is coming in to see me.

And if I see that marker start to go down, it’s not an absolute, but it can be a good early indicator of improvement with the treatment. And then I think it varies a little bit from practice to practice and based on patient preference. But often there will be scans done when a patient is initially diagnosed to determine the extent of the disease. So, usually a CT scan of the chest and the abdomen and the pelvis or a PET scan, which some of you may have heard of. Either one of those is good.

And that can be done about every 12 weeks usually in the beginning, to make sure a patient is responding and once you feel confident that they are, those can be done less frequently. So, I would say the scans and the lab work and then the patient’s overall condition are usually the way that we look to see, are we having a response or not. 

What Are the Limitations of Telemedicine for Prostate Cancer Patients?

What Are the Limitations of Telemedicine for Prostate Cancer Patients? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

For prostate cancer care, what are some differences that patients experience with telemedicine visits rather than in-person visits? Dr. Leanne Burnham details some telehealth limitations that she has noticed in care for her patients.

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Dr. Leanne Burnham

Well, some limitations that we’re seeing with telemedicine use, I can speak to, not only as a scientist, but also as an advocate for my loved ones, and seeing how telemedicine works in real time. It’s a little bit different when you can’t have your spouse or your parent or your sibling come with you into an office visit. Having your advocate sitting next to you on a virtual visit can come across a little bit more differently than when it’s in-person, and so that some of the personal effects are lost, I feel at times with the telemedicine approach. Then there’s also the idea of a telemedicine appointment often being like a double appointment, so let’s say, for example, if I were to go to a doctor in-person and I need to have some lab work done, you kind of can get it done at the same time. You go to your appointment, and then you go around the corner to get your labs done. Whereas now it may be that you have a telemedicine visit, and now it’s like, okay, you need to go get those labs, so you still have to find other time where you have to go and get that done, so it can tend to spread the experience out for some people.