1. Which doctors treat thalassemia?
A hematologist and General Physician are usually the primary treating doctors. However, given the comorbidities, a robust health eco-system will include a cardiologist, endocrinologist and gastroenterologist.
2. When is the best time to have a thalassemia test if I am a carrier?
The best time to have a thalassemia test is before you start a family or are at the start of pregnancy.
3. My child has beta thalassemia major, can it be cured?
Yes it can be cured. Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) is the best solution for this condition
4. Which treatment is best: cord blood or bone marrow?
Best possible results, quality of care are with standard BMT. There is no strong evidence that cord blood is superior to bone marrow for treating thalassemia.
5. What is the success rate for using Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) to cure thalassemia?
BMT can give an 80-90% cure probability, with 5% mortality rate and a 10% chance of refusal (leaving them thalassemic).
6. What medicines are available in India and what are their side effects?
- Deferasirox is a chelation pill, dissolved in water or juice and taken once daily, preferably on an empty stomach. Side effects include, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and raised liver function tests.
- Deferiprone is a pill which as an iron chelator, it can cause cartilage problems in the joints and may cause decrease in white blood cells in the blood.
- Deferoxamine is an injection given slowly under the skin, usually with a small portable pump used overnight. This therapy needs to be given over a long period of time in order for it to be effective.
- Hydroxyurea is an oral medicine that is a fetal hemoglobin inducer, and most commonly used in thalassemia intermedia and sickle cell disease. Hydroxyurea should be used at a starting dose of 10 mg/kg/day, check for response every 3 months. The dose may be increased to a maximum dose of 20 mg/kg/day. If no response it may be discontinued 6 months.