Funda Vesile Korapjioglu specializes in the treatment of children diagnosed with cancer. At the request of patients, Maria Chabdaeva, director of the international company Experts Medical, personally met with Dr. Funda. She asked questions that concern many parents whose children have cancer.
About the Doctor
Funda Vesile Korapjioglu has over 26 years of experience and is the author of ten scientific publications. She is a member of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology, the Turkish Cancer Research Foundation, and the Turkish Pediatric Oncology Group.
About innovative methods of treatment of pediatric oncology
- Hello Doctor Funda! I am very glad to meet you. Many thanks on behalf of our patients. They are grateful for the treatment and are very happy about the long-awaited remission.
I know that you specialize in the treatment of various types of tumors with innovative methods. I would like to ask what types of tumors do you treat? What cancer treatments do you use?
I specialize in the treatment of brain tumors and other cancers that can occur in children. For example, neuroblastoma. I am also actively involved in the treatment of lymphomas and oncology of bone tissues. At the moment, we are preparing a team and equipment for a more specialized reception of patients with oncohematology and bone cancer.
- What innovative methods of oncological treatment do you use?
Of course, chemotherapy is still very effective in treating cancer. We use chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and surgery. Immunotherapy is now one of the most advanced medical technologies.
We now have many patients on treatment who are taking immunotherapy, especially from Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Not all patients from Ukraine were able to come because of the war. Therefore, some of them undergo immunotherapy at home.
About cancer immunotherapy
- What types of tumors do you use immunotherapy for?
Primarily, we use it for the treatment of brain tumors. It is also a very important method in the treatment of neuroblastoma, Ewing's sarcoma, bone and soft tissue tumors, rhabdomyosarcoma, ad mesenchymal tumors. There are benign tumors that do not respond to chemotherapy. Immunotherapy is very effective for these patients.
- When should immunotherapy be used instead of other treatments? Most often as the last stage of treatment or instead of other methods as a more effective treatment? Is it possible that immunotherapy treatment will be more effective for patients than other methods?
We do not prescribe immunotherapy as an independent method in the treatment of cancer.
We recommend it as the first step in treatment for some types of cancer. Because chemotherapy will not be effective, especially for certain types of brain tumors.
In the treatment of neuroblastoma and bone and soft tissue tumors, we combine chemotherapy with immunotherapy.
The peculiarity of immunotherapy is that in order to prescribe it, we must know its purpose. Namely, we need to find out exactly which cells we want to influence. For this, a biopsy of the tumor is examined in detail. Molecular analysis of postoperative material should be done very carefully.
In short, immunotherapy cannot be used as a standalone therapy but it is used to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
About targeted therapy
- When you talk about immunotherapy, do you also mean targeted therapy? For targeted therapy, a genetic test is done to see if it is possible to add additional drugs to chemotherapy. What immunotherapy do you use for brain tumors?
It depends on the type of brain tumor. For brain cancers in children, such as diffuse gliomas of the brainstem, which are difficult to treat, we first prescribe radiation therapy together with chemotherapy in tablets.
Now there is a drug that is not yet sold in pharmacies, it is still undergoing clinical trials. We help patients access this drug because it is indeed very effective in treatment.
The type of immunotherapy or targeted therapy depends entirely on the type of tumor. In some cases, therapy affects the cells of the tumor and in some cases, it increases the immune activity of surrounding tissues. A molecular study of tumor pathology, such as low-grade glioma, allows to evaluate whether a given drug will be effective in treating a particular tumor.
- So you study with the help of a biopsy to see if the treatment will be effective, right?
Yes, pathological and molecular genetic testing are standard before starting treatment. Previously, a visual examination (MRI, CT) of a brain tumor was sufficient. Sometimes it was possible not to do a biopsy to start treatment. In the last 10 years, the approach has completely changed. Molecular research is now absolutely necessary.
Previously, brain tumors were considered the type of tumor with the most pessimistic prognosis. But now this is no longer the case.
- Do you have good results in the treatment of brain tumors now? Do targeted and immunotherapy give good results?
- Does the patient need to take targeted therapy for a very long time or a limited period of time?
It depends on the drug. Typically, patients take drugs for 18 months to 2 years. For example, in the treatment of neuroblastoma, treatment with anti-GD2 monoclonal antibodies takes about 6 months.
- Is immunotherapy prescribed for neuroblastoma at the very end of treatment or throughout therapy?
If the patient has primary neuroblastoma, we prescribe it at the end of therapy. If it is a relapse of neuroblastoma, we can start immunotherapy from the first day of treatment.
- Can a patient take immunotherapy along with chemotherapy?
Yes, of course, they can be taken together.
About Acibadem Clinic
- What is the advantage of coming to Acibadem for chemotherapy?
Many patients say that here the treatment is carried out with the same drugs, according to the same protocols. In that case, why should I go to Acibadem for chemotherapy?
I really like this question. The protocols are written in this book. If so, they can simply read and use them according to the book.
Being just a doctor means knowing all the protocols and describing them step by step. Being a real oncologist means being able to apply these protocols correctly. This primarily concerns the pediatric oncologist.
Also, perhaps this does not apply to Ukraine but in other countries, doctors are very often afraid to give intensive care to children. They are, of course, right, because they have little experience. A variety of side effects can occur in a patient, as chemotherapy for children is a very aggressive treatment.
The conditions of a specialized high-level center are needed to ensure the care and supervision of these children. Since very serious complications and side effects can occur.
We are constantly aware of all innovations in medicine. Teamwork is very important for a good result. Decisions must be made jointly with the team of doctors. So, there are actually a lot of differences.
Also, one important point about the network of Acibadem Hospital is that they are very attentive to the quality and accuracy of prescribing medicines. The rule is strictly observed: all medicines used must be original.
It is another very important difference for me. These are the competencies of the oncology nurse, which are of the utmost importance. I am very scrupulous in the selection and training of nurses in our department. My expertise matters too.
About therapy at home and at Acibadem Clinic under the supervision of doctors
- And the last question. Is it possible for foreign patients to continue chemotherapy at home under your supervision provided that they will come to control? Or should they stay in Istanbul all the time? What will be the results of treatment at home under your control and inpatient in Acibadem?
Of course, patients should not stay here for the duration of their treatment. Sometimes the treatment we prescribe can be very difficult. Therapy can cause complications, for example, thrombocytopenic shock, erythrocytopenia, the child may fall into septic shock. Therefore, parents often prefer to stay in Istanbul under the supervision of a doctor.
When a little patient arrives, he can take the first course of chemo here. Then, if the family decides to continue treatment at home, we give a protocol. We will stay in touch via WhatsApp and phone. Parents of the child will be able to send test results. This way I can adjust the therapy.
Thank you very much for your time and answers to questions that concern patients!
- How to get treatment at Acibadem Clinic with Dr. Funda Vesile Korapjioglu?
To organize a trip for treatment to Acibadem Clinic to Doctor Funda Vesile Korapjioglu, just leave a request on the Experts Medical website. You can also call the phone numbers listed on the website. Doctors-coordinators of the company will provide a free consultation, as well as:
- will help to contact Dr. Funda Vesile Korapjioglu for a preliminary consultation;
- prepare all necessary medical documents.
They organize everything you need for the trip: transfers, tickets, hotel reservations.
Specialists of Experts Medical will do their best to start treatment at Acibadem Clinic as soon as possible.