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If you're fighting a hematologic cancer, it's important to find an experienced cancer team that's committed to helping you reach your individual treatment goals. Your doctors should:
- Have expertise in treating blood-related diseases
- Apply the latest treatment protocols, and be willing to go beyond standard protocols to try innovative approaches to treat your specific disease
- Work alongside clinical experts from many disciplines to provide you with the most thorough, integrated care possible
The Hematology Oncology Department at CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center (Southwestern) provides advanced medical therapies for patients with various types and stages of hematologic disease.
Stem Cell Transplantation
Some hematologic cancer patients at Southwestern undergo a Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Transplantation (commonly referred to as stem cell transplantation). Dr. Joseph Lynch serves as Medical Director of the Stem Cell Transplant & Cell Therapy Program at Southwestern.
A stem cell transplant can be used to infuse healthy stem cells into the body to stimulate new bone marrow growth, suppress the disease, and reduce the possibility of a relapse. Stem cells can be found in the bone marrow, circulating blood (peripheral blood stem cells), and umbilical cord blood.
The Stem Cell Transplant Process
Dr. Joseph Lynch and his team perform autologous stem cell transplants and allogeneic stem cell transplants. In an autologous transplant, stem cells are collected from the patient themselves. In an allogeneic stem cell transplant, stem cells are collected from a matching donor.
Before a stem cell transplant, you'll undergo a conditioning regime, which involves intensive treatment to destroy as many cancer cells as possible. You may receive high doses of chemotherapy and, in some cases, radiation therapy. Once this preparative regime is complete, you're ready to undergo the transplant.
The stem cells are re-infused into the bloodstream, similar to a blood transfusion. This procedure typically takes about an hour. After entering the bloodstream, the stem cells travel
to the bone marrow and begin to produce new blood cells in a process called engraftment.
In the months following the transplant, your care team will monitor your blood counts. You may need transfusions of red blood cells and platelets. Sometimes, the intensive treatments you receive before the stem cell transplantation can cause side effects, like infection. In this case, your doctor may administer IV antibiotics.
If you had an allogeneic stem cell transplant, your doctor may prescribe certain drugs to reduce the risk of graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), a condition where the donated cells attack the patient's tissues.
Helping You Maintain Your Quality of Life
Recovery from a stem cell transplant can take several months. Our hematology oncology team will work with the rest of your care team to support you throughout the entire process.
For example, your dietitian will recommend a healthy diet to nutritionally fortify your body, and your naturopath will recommend natural therapies to help reduce side effects, such as neuropathy. Your rehabilitation therapist will recommend safe levels of physical activity to help you stay active and independent.
Additionally, your pain management practitioner will use various techniques to help alleviate discomfort and control bone and neuropathic pain, while your mind-body therapist will provide counseling and relaxation techniques.