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Local Cancer Center Doctor Weighs In On 'Good Morning America' Co-Anchor's Most Recent Health Crisis


After a six-month recovery following a stem cell transplant to treat a blood disorder, Robin Roberts of ABC television’s “Good Morning America” returned to the airwaves last week.

The popular morning show co-anchor was warmly welcomed by her GMA team as well as many fans throughout the nation, who cheered on her successful battle against breast cancer in 2007, then her most recent diagnosis and treatment of MDS or myelodysplastic syndrome. It’s a disease of the blood and bone marrow, once known as preleukemia, which can be linked to cancer treatment.
The nationwide attention resulting from Roberts’ health issues has put the spotlight on breast cancer, bone marrow donation as well as blood disorders.

Dr. Vikas Ghai, who recently joined the medical staff of The AIS Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH), specializes in lung cancer, breast cancer, leukemia and lymphomas (a type of blood cancer). In fact, an article on Dr. Ghai’s work with special therapies for the treatment of a highly aggressive type of lymphoma was just published in the January issue of “Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology.”

Back in August, Roberts, now 52, underwent chemotherapy in preparation for the bone marrow donation she received in September from her sister. Her doctors gave her a positive prognosis, saying her age and physical fitness would be key factors in helping her beat this disease, which appears to have been the case.

Dr. Ghai agreed, saying the exact type of illness that struck Roberts is not uncommon and certainly not a death sentence. Researchers continue to improve stem cell transplantation procedures, making them a viable treatment option for even more patients, he said.

“The goal of cancer treatment is to harm or kill cancer cells,” Dr. Ghai said. “Treatment plans are based on several factors that can vary from patient to patient.”

Dr. Ghai said some of those factors for a patient may include:

  • Type of blood cancer
  • Disease’s subtype, phase, category and/or stage
  • Cytogenetic analysis results
  • Overall health
  • Symptoms
  • White cell count
  • The cancer cells’ location
  • Rate of disease progression
  • History of cancer and if there was subsequent chemotherapy to treat it
  • If there was a case of blood cancer in the past
  • If cancer is in the central nervous system
  • If there is infection in the bloodstream (systemic infection)
  • Pregnancy
  • Effect of treatment may have on the quality of life

About Vikas Ghai
Dr. Ghai is the newest member to join the medical staff of The AIS Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH), now a member of the UC Davis Cancer Care Network. Dr. Ghai, an oncologist, will care for cancer patients with benign and malignant hematological disorders and all solid tumors. His main areas of focus will be lung cancer, breast cancer, GU, GI, leukemia and lymphomas. Dr. Ghai comes to Bakersfield most recently from Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center, where he was an assistant professor. Dr. Ghai studied Internal Medicine and earned a Master’s of Science and Biomedical Sciences (MSBS) from University of Toledo, OH. He received a Hematology/Oncology Fellowship from the Hershey Medical Center. Dr. Ghai’s inspiration to enter the medical field comes from losing his grandmother to breast cancer.