When it comes to blood cancers, also known as hematologic cancers, you should see us first because we offer the region’s only bone marrow and stem cell transplant program to treat adult leukemia, lymphoma and other types of blood cancer.
When it comes to blood cancers, also known as hematologic cancers, you should see
the team at the Georgia Cancer Center first because we offer the region’s onlybone marrow and stem cell transplant programto treat adult leukemia, lymphoma and other types of blood cancer.
Patients have access to bothautologousstem cell transplant andallogeneicstem cell transplant. Autologous transplant involves using the patient’s own stem
cells. Allogeneic transplant uses stem cells donated by another person. There are
four types of allogeneic transplant: match-related donor, match-unrelated donor, half-match
donor, and umbilical cord blood transplants. We are able to perform all types of stem
cell transplant here at the Georgia Cancer Center.
Our center has a comprehensive approach to treat patients: from diagnosis through
treatment, into remission, followed by stem cell transplantation and then follow up
care as a cancer survivor.
Each patient is supported by a team that includes nurse practitioners, inpatient nurses,
nurse navigators, social workers, oncology pharmacists, stem cell collection (apheresis)
staff, and stem cell processing staff. The team also includes specialized laboratory
staff for DNA tests, like HLA typing.
Blood & Marrow Transplantation
The Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University provides the region’s only Blood &
Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy (BMT&CT) program to treat adult leukemia, lymphomas,
multiple myeloma, and other types of blood cancers and disorders.
Our BMT&CT multidisciplinary team includes transplant-trained physicians, nurse practitioners,
inpatient nurses, transplant coordinators, nurse navigators, social workers, oncology
pharmacists, stem cell collection (apheresis) staff, financial coordinator, and stem
cell collection & processing staff. The team also includes specialized laboratory
staff for DNA tests, such as Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing.
We provide a comprehensive treatment program that includes prompt access to consultation
or second opinion for all Hematologic Malignancies, as well as access to the Georgia
Cancer Center or Cooperative Group Clinical Trials.
Our Blood & Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Program (BMT&CT) includes
these life-saving alternatives:
Autologous Stem Cell Transplant uses a patient’s own stem cells; you may hear your care team refer to this as an
Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant use healthy stem cells from a matched relative or matched unrelated donor; you may
hear your care team refer to this as an “allo” transplant.
What to Expect
The process of a bone marrow/stem cell transplant can be long and difficult, but patients
benefit from the support of a dedicated multidisciplinary care team who are there
to answer your questions before, during and after your procedure.
The bone marrow and stem cell transplant process includes:
Evaluation and preparation: Before transplant, the Blood & Marrow Transplant (BMT) team will need to determine
that you are healthy enough for the transplant. Patients complete medical tests, including
bone marrow biopsy, heart tests, blood and lung studies, along with consultation with
the transplant team, including a psychological evaluation.
Collection: Depending on the type of transplant one is undergoing (Autologous or Allogeneic),
stem cells will be collected either from the patient (also referred to as the recipient)
or from a matched donor. The Georgia Cancer Center works with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), who provides excellent patient and family education
Conditioning: Patients are treated with high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation to destroy cancer
cells and ready the body for transplant.
Infusion: Bone marrow/stem cells are infused through an IV, similar to a blood transfusion.
Recovery: Over the course of 2 to 6 weeks, transplanted bone marrow/stem cells engraft. Engraftment
is when the donated cells you received for your transplant start to grow and make
new blood cells in your body. During this time, your doctor will monitor your blood
counts closely and may prescribe antibiotics and other medications.
Follow up: Your transplant team will remain in contact with you for the next year or more to
provide medical follow-up and supportive care.
Stem cells from blood, not bone
Collecting stem cells from bone marrow by puncturing bone was more common in the past
(called a bone marrow transplant), now most of the stem cells are collected from blood
(called a peripheral blood stem cell transplant, or PBSCT). These stem cells produce
the key components of blood: red cells that carry oxygen, white cells that are part
of the body's immune response, and platelets that cause clotting.
You may receive chemotherapy or radiation to prepare for the stem cell transplant.
This is also called the preparative or conditioning regimen.
Non-surgical transplant procedure
Some people may think a stem cell transplant is a surgical procedure, but it is more
like a blood infusion. During a transplant, healthy stem cells are given to the patient
through a central line (similar to an IV) that is placed in a large vein, usually
in the neck or chest. It usually takes a few hours, and patients can read or relax
during this procedure.
The treatment plan may include several therapies and support services selected for
specific care needs, which will become the multidisciplinary team. Some of these services
Stem cell transplantation
Chemotherapy, radiation or drug therapies
Image Boutique, offering supplies to help survivors look and feel their best
Integrative therapies, including music therapy, chair yoga, and other support programs
Autologous stem cell transplants refer to stem cells that are collected from a patient
and given back to that same individual. Autologous transplants are by far the most
common type of transplant performed in myeloma patients today. With this type of transplant,
the patient's stem cells are obtained prior to high-dose chemotherapy, frozen, and
stored if necessary, and are then given back to the patient after high-dose of chemotherapy.
Who is a Candidate Autologous Stem Cell Transplants?
High-dose chemotherapy accompanied by autologous stem cell transplant are considered
by many to be a standard of care for healthy patients. It is a treatment option for
patients with newly diagnosed disease and for those who have already received other
treatments. In general, patients with good performance status, adequate kidney function
and minimal comorbidity are eligible.
Advantages of autologous stem cell transplant
The patient serves as his or her own source of stem cells: there is no need to find a donor and there is no risk of incompatibility.
Autologous transplants are relatively safe procedures: low rates of complications and infections compared with Allogeneic transplants.
In some instances, much of the procedure can be done on an outpatient basis.
Autologous transplants may not be an option for some patients. In certain instances,
prior treatment with certain chemotherapy drugs or with radiation therapy to the spine
or pelvis may reduce the number of stem cells that can be collected for an Autologous
Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants use donor stem cells to restore a patient’s
marrow and blood cells. Allogeneic transplants are a treatment option for Hodgkin’s
lymphoma, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, chronic myelogenous
leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, aplastic anemia and myeloproliferative disease.
There are several ways donor stem cells can be obtained for this type of transplant:
Matched related (siblings) donor
Matched unrelated donor or cord blood
Haploidentical (half matched related donor) transplant
The donor will have an evaluation for eligibility; if eligible, their stem cells will
most likely to be collected from peripheral blood process. Once collected, the stem
cells are frozen until used for the patient’s Allogeneic stem cell transplant.
National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)
In the event a patient needs an allogeneic transplant and does not have a matched
sibling, we get the matched unrelated donor or cord blood by searching international
registry of NMDP, Be the Match.
Our multidisciplinary team includes a Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Lab, which is vital for matching a patient to potential donors.
Who is a candidate for allogeneic stem cell transplants
In general, patients with good performance status, adequate kidney function, and minimal
comorbidity are eligible. The donor must also be in good health and meet blood donor
High-dose chemotherapy accompanied by allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant
is a treatment option for patients with newly-diagnosed disease and for those who
have already received other treatments. Allogeneic transplant is primarily performed
for patients with Leukemia.
Advantages of allogeneic stem cell transplant
The Allogeneic transplant recipient may achieve complete remission of the disease
(blood cancer) following this type of transplant.
Measures are taken to prevent GVHD complications following these transplants.
Finding a suitable donor can be difficult.
Managing post-transplant graft versus host diseases (GVHD).
Augusta University Medical Center specialists provide care and support throughout your entire healthcare journey.