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Local Oncologist Addresses Chemo Concerns After Robin Roberts' Illness

4:06 PM, Jun 13, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts was recently diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which is a rare disease of the blood and bone marrow. When Roberts said Monday that the disease was linked to chemotherapy treatment she had five years ago, many started to worry.

Roberts underwent the chemotherapy to fight her breast cancer, and the risk of developing MDS was present. Now, some women are concerned about the use of chemotherapy because of the danger of these side effects.

Neelima Denduluri, M.D., an oncologist at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA, tells 9 News Now's Andrea Roane that this complication is very rare. 

Dr. Denduluri says, "Chemotherapy leads to better outcomes in women, and when we look at how women with breast cancer have survival rates over decades, we see that they're doing better and better."

Dr. Denduluri explains that when patients are in need of chemotherapy, clinicians discuss the risk-to-benefit ratios. They focus on the short term side effects, such as hair loss, nausea, and other day-to-day complications. They also warn women that MDS is a rare complication that could appear years after the treatment.

Despite the potential risks, Dr. Denduluri believes that women shouldn't be afraid of getting chemotherapy treatments if necessary. She says that advances in breast cancer technology make it easier to specialize treatment for each patient based on genomic predictors, and to ensure that the treatment is necessary and effective.

Chemotherapy is still a viable option, but to stay informed, women shouldn't be afraid to ask their doctors questions about their treatment at any point in the process.

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