Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center opens Cancer Transplant Institute
New hematopoietic stem cell transplant program offers treatment for patients with blood cancers
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Feb. 24, 2012) – The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare has added a hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplant program (commonly known as bone marrow transplant) through its new Cancer Transplant Institute. HSC transplants are primarily used to treat patients with aggressive cancers such as myeloma, leukemias and lymphomas.
The Cancer Transplant Institute at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center is located on the campus of Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, and includes an outpatient treatment unit and a 13-bed inpatient unit. This allows some transplant patients to be treated while they are able to remain at home for part of their therapy. The program expects to attract bone marrow transplant patients from across the Southwest.
Cancer patients needing HSC transplants receive very high doses of chemotherapy designed to kill aggressive tumors. In the process their own bone marrow is damaged, resulting in low blood counts and weakened immune systems. Stem cells that are collected prior to therapy are then given to “rescue” the patient from the effects of the high dose therapy. Stem cells can be collected from the patients themselves (autologous) or a donor (allogeneic). Although often referred to as a bone marrow transplant, more commonly the stem cells are now collected from the blood stream.
"In these aggressive disorders regular chemotherapy isn’t enough to kill the tumor cells,” explains bone marrow transplant specialist Jeffrey Schriber, MD, medical director of the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Cancer Transplant Institute. "Unfortunately, the high dose therapy is so intense that without the stem cell rescue patients would not survive due to the lack of white cells which prevent infection and platelets that prevent bleeding. This therapy allows us to safely give the chemotherapy necessary to cure these aggressive cancers.“
A new 13-bed inpatient hospital unit with specially designed air handling helps minimize the chance for infectious complications during the periods of lowest blood counts.
“Transplant patients often have prolonged hospital stays and typically require care from many other hospital departments, including dietary, physical therapy, occupational therapy and radiology, as well as interaction with many other subspecialties within the hospital,” explained Schriber.
“The Cancer Transplant Institute brings an invaluable service to the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center and the community, and we are honored to have this program here at Scottsdale Healthcare,” said Lindsay Thomas, director of oncology services.
Cancer Transplant Institute patients are referred from all over the Valley and other areas in the Southwest. A critical component to success is working closely with the patient’s primary oncologist to develop an appropriate plan for them, said Schriber. “We are thrilled that despite just opening our doors we have already seen over 50 patients and performed our first transplant,” he noted.
Most autologous transplant patients return to their referring oncologist after 2-3 months. Patients with more complicated transplants often stay with the program for many years, typically requiring hospital and outpatient services during that time.
Even though the program is new almost all of the team including the physicians, nurse practitioners, nursing staff and coordinators have worked in this area for over 10 years. It was this type of experience that has earned The Cancer Transplant Institute at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center accreditation by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) for autologous and allogeneic adult transplants. The Institute also is a member of the National Marrow Transplant Program (NMDP), which enables it to perform unrelated donor transplants.
The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare is located 10460 N. 92nd St., on the campus of Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center. The Cancer Transplant Institute’s outpatient clinic is inside the cancer center; inpatient transplants are performed in the hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.
For additional information about bone marrow transplant available through the Cancer Transplant Institute at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, please contact the transplant team at 480 323-1573.
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