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Bone marrow transplantation has become an important treatment for some types of cancer patients in Oklahoma. Once thought of as a treatment of "last resort", the physicians at OU Medicine are using bone marrow transplants earlier in the treatment cycle and for more types of cancer.
Bone Marrow Transplant Handbook, for Patients
The 16-year old bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplant program at OU Medical Center is responsible for more than 90 percent of these types of transplants in Oklahoma. The program provides a vital, life-saving procedure to the people of Oklahoma. No longer do Oklahoma's cancer patients have to travel to distant cities to receive this cutting edge treatment.
Bone marrow is the spongy material found in the center of bones. This is where the body makes blood cells from special cell called "stem cells". A person may need a bone marrow transplant when this marrow is diseased, or when they receive very high doses of chemotherapy treatment that kills not only the cancer, but the stem cells in the bone marrow. The transplant replaces the killed stem cells and allows the body to start producing blood cell again.
The stem cells are collected from the patient before chemotherapy, or from a donor whose tissue type matches the patient's. The stem cells can be obtained directly from the bone marrow where they are at the greatest concentration, or they can be filtered from the blood stream (peripheral stem cell harvest).
Because of the close association with The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center, the transplant program has expanded to treat children. The pediatric program was started in 1993 and has treated an 14 - 18 patients per year.
The effort to find better treatments for cancer never stops. The transplant program participates in multiple clinical studies in association with the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), the Pediatric Oncology Group (POG), Pediatric Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Consortium and the Gynecology Oncology Group. These studies are working on perfecting better therapies for diseases like breast cancer, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, acute leukemia, neuroblastoma, aplastic anemia, immunodeficiency disease, testicular cancer and ovarian cancer.
Tremendous progress has been made in stem cell transplant over the last 20 years. It is good to know that the special doctors at OU Medicine are helping to light the way to better treatments for the cancer patients of Oklahoma.