Podcast: Transformative Science Drives Promising Blood Cancer Advances

The challenge and complexity of myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia attracted Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center hematologist Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., M.S., to his field.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center hematologist Dr. Mikkael Sekkeres speaks with Miller School Dean Henri Ford.

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In part 2 of his discussion with Dean Ford, Dr. Sekeres says cancer is actually thousands of diagnoses.

Listen to part 1

Only a few decades ago, blood cancer patients faced a grim five-year survival rate.

Today, that rate has more than doubled thanks to scientific innovation and targeted therapies that disrupt the growth and survival of cancer cells. But the battle is far from over.

Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., M.S., chief of the Division of Hematology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth—University of Miami Health System, emphasizes the complexity of treating these diseases in the latest episode of Inside U Miami Medicine.

“We face this in health care all the time. People think it should be easy, but cancer is thousands and thousands and thousands of diagnoses, and every single one of them is typified by different genetic mutations that led to the cancer,” he said.

In the case of myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia, Sekeres’ areas of expertise, he notes it’s not just one or two things that go wrong.

“It’s, on average, four driver mutations, and it might be a total of nine, 12, 13 mutations in total that these folks have,” Dr. Sekeres said.

Precise Cancer Diagnosis and Care

Because of these mutations, treating blood cancers is particularly challenging and requires precise diagnoses and specialized care, often only found at NCI-designated cancer centers like Sylvester. In the intricate world of leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, each breakthrough achieved through clinical trials brings scientists and clinicians a step closer to transforming future standards of care.

Reflecting on his career path, Dr. Sekeres shared, “A mentor once said to me, ‘Do you want to focus your career on a methodology or focus on a disease?’ I decided to focus on a disease that encompasses a lot of different methodologies and a variety of ways of exploring the science.”

Tune in to the conversation on Apple or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Tags: Acute Myeloid Leukemia, blood cancers, Dean Henri Ford, Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, Inside U Miami Medicine podcast, myelodysplastic syndromes, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center