O’Neal Cancer Center named Center of Excellence by MDS Foundation

The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center has been designated a Center of Excellence by the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation, making it the only one in the state that holds this designation and can now provide patients access to an international network of specialized physicians.
Written by: Curran Umphrey
Media contact: Beena Thannickal

Kimo1Kimo Bachiashvili, M.D.The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham was recently named a Center of Excellence by the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation, making it the only care center with this designation in the state. Through this designation, the O’Neal Cancer Center becomes a part of the foundation’s international MDS information network and referral system. 

MDS, a type of blood cancer, comprises a group of diverse bone marrow disorders in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. Often referred to as a bone marrow failure disorder, MDS primarily affects patients who are 65 and older but can also affect younger patients. 

“MDS can be as mild as just having abnormal laboratory results without any significant detriment to a patient’s life expectancy or quality of life,” said Kimo Bachiashvili, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology and associate scientist in the O’Neal Cancer Center. “On the other hand, some forms of MDS can be very aggressive and convert to acute leukemia within weeks to months.”

This designation will give MDS patients both inside and outside of Alabama access to the MDS Foundation’s international network of physicians.  

The goal of the foundation is to connect physicians and patients and to facilitate the exchange of clinical, scientific and educational information, which Bachiashvili says is especially beneficial when it comes to relatively rare diseases such as MDS.

“When patients come to the O’Neal Cancer Center, it is our mission to help them understand their unique MDS diagnosis, what to expect from it, and the appropriate therapies and clinical trials that are available to them,” Bachiashvili said. “We guide the patient in each step of their journey, be it through routine blood checks, chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation.”