WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the outer shell of the brain’s and spinal cord’s nerve cells. As a result, the brain doesn’t correctly send signals throughout the body, and the nerves can’t function as normal. Damage to the nerves can become debilitating and potentially disabling.
MS is a difficult illness to diagnose. However, many people share several neurological symptoms, including:
- Bladder control problems
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty walking
- Numbness or weakness of the limbs
- Trouble focusing or remembering
Symptoms vary from patient to patient based on the affected nerve’s location and other factors. Doctors officially diagnose MS using an MRI to examine both the brain and spinal cord.
Symptoms will fall into one of five categories — relapse-remitting, secondary progressive, primary progressive, progressive-relapsing or fulminant. Most patients have a relapsing-remitting form with new symptoms or relapses that develop over several days and then improve either partially or fully, followed by a period of remission.
An MS diagnosis is difficult, but help is available. The professionals at Gettysburg Cancer Center offer hope through a wide range of infusion treatment options for multiple sclerosis.
HOW TO TREAT MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS WITH INFUSIONS
While no cure currently exists for MS, several types of infusion treatments can alleviate symptoms.
The team at Gettysburg Cancer Center will work with you to find the best treatment for your needs. You’ll find top-quality, compassionate care at our facilities, with treatment options including:
- Ocrevus: Experts recommend Ocrevus treatment for relapsing and primary progressive forms of multiple sclerosis. It effectively slows the disease’s progression, stops relapses and improves bodily movement. We administer the first dose as two separate IV infusions given two weeks apart, and each subsequent dose follows a six-month schedule. Before each treatment, an antihistamine and corticosteroids are given to reduce infusion-related reactions.
- Tysabri: Tysabri treatment is prescribed for people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. It reduces flare-ups and keeps the disease from worsening quickly. Unlike other MS drugs, Tysabri prevents the immune system’s white blood cells from entering the spinal cord and brain. The infusion is administered in hour-long sessions every four weeks. Because the treatment can increase your risk of developing multifocal leukoencephalopathy, you can only receive it through authorized participants of the TOUCH Prescribing Program — such as our Gettysburg, PA Center — who will monitor your treatment and progress.
- Novantrone: Doctors prescribe Novantrone for special MS cases. It can provide relief to patients with relapsing-remitting, secondary progressive, and progressive-relapsing categories. IV infusions take place every three months with up to a total of 12 doses. While we can provide this treatment for particular cases, most doctors prefer other methods when possible due to Novantrone’s side effects.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS DIAGNOSIS
MS diagnoses aren’t easy to make. The autoimmune disease doesn’t have a straightforward “yes or no” test for diagnosing MS, so our doctors rely on multiple tests and a patient’s history to make a diagnosis. Patients often have a history of neurological symptoms, which can include:
- Difficulty walking
- Heat sensitivity
- Numbness or tingling
- Emotional or cognitive changes
- Little energy
Symptoms vary, so our doctors use MRIs to examine the spinal cord and brain for abnormal areas. We understand how expensive diagnostic tests can become for families, which is why our MRI services combine quality and affordability for patients.
Our doctors diagnose and categorize a patient’s MS in one of five categories:
- Relapsing-Remitting: Relapsing-remitting is a common form of MS. Patients develop new symptoms or their current symptoms worsen for more than two days after an episode or attack.
- Secondary Progressive: Patients with secondary progressive MS have symptoms that change over time, without the onset of an attack. If attacks occur, they’re less often.
- Primary Progressive: Primary progressive MS continues to worsen over time but without attacks.
- Progressive-Relapsing: Progressive-relapsing MS is uncommon. Patients with progressive-relapsing are like primary progressive MS patients but have attacks.
- Fulminant: Fulminant is a rare form of MS. It’s an accelerated version of relapsing-remitting MS, causing patients to have more attacks, more often, which introduce new symptoms or worsen current ones at a faster rate.
An MS diagnosis is difficult, but it’s also the first step towards building a treatment option that helps a patient manage their MS.
LIFE-CHANGING INFUSION TREATMENT
At Gettysburg Cancer Center, we understand how crucial it is to manage MS symptoms as quickly and effectively as possible. With caring professionals and some of today’s most innovative treatment options, we’ll work with you to find the relief you need.