New transplants, treatment options coming to Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center
By Kerry Hamilton
The Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert continues to usher in a new era of cancer care in Arizona, reflected by a series of four successful stem cell transplants performed on patients with multiple myeloma from May to July 2013. Two additional patients with relapsed non-Hodgkin lymphoma are currently being prepared for autologous stem cell transplantation.
For patients suffering from hematologic malignancies and other blood and bone marrow disorders, often the only treatment option with curative potential is stem cell transplantation. Adding this critical service further reinforces Banner MD Anderson's position as a renowned destination for leading-edge cancer care in the Southwest.
Transplant options expanding
When high dose chemotherapy or radiation is deemed the most effective treatment to eliminate cancer cells, the process often destroys healthy marrow and an autologous stem cell transplant replenishes damaged cells. Allogeneic stem cell transplants from related, unrelated and haploidentical donors have a powerful effect in directly treating certain diseases, like acute leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome and aplastic anemia, by using donated stem cells to fight the offending cells and restore those compromised by cancer or bone marrow failure.
Currently, Banner MD Anderson's highly specialized team performs autologous stem cell transplants and will expand to allogeneic transplants this fall, enabling physicians to leverage multiple donor stem cell options, including those from patients, family members, umbilical cord blood units, and unrelated donors who are a near match.
"Our stem cell transplant options incorporate the latest medical advances and show tremendous promise for treating all manner of hematologic disease," says Dr. Görgün Akpek, MD, MHS, FACP, director of the center's Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Program.
Treatment protocols and personalized care
The Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Program is equipped to treat acute and chronic leukemia; Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma; multiple myeloma and AL amyloidosis; myelodysplastic syndrome; myelofibrosis; aplastic anemia; and other hematologic cancers and bone marrow failure disorders.
"Stem cell transplantation is a highly complex yet effective course of treatment in the right situations," says Dr. Akpek. "We screen potential candidates using protocols fully adopted from MD Anderson to determine if transplantation is indicated and engage a weekly multidisciplinary tumor board to identify the optimal treatment approach for each patient. We are also introducing new clinical trials to further improve the safety of transplant modality and the curability of underlying diseases and conditions."