Some cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma and myelomas, originate in and / or primarily affect blood cells, bone marrow or the lymph system. Because these cancers—which affect adults and children alike—tend not to be site-specific, surgery is not usually the primary course of treatment. Instead, these cancers are often treated—and completely cured—by a combination of methods, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, blood transfusion, and bone marrow transplantation.
At IOSPL, a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists works together to deliver state-of-the-art, comprehensive care to each of our patients.
For each patient, our team develops a comprehensive, highly-individualized treatment plan that is designed to achieve the best possible outcome, and it closely monitors the progress of that treatment to allow for rapid adjustments, as warranted. Throughout treatment, our specialists meet weekly to discuss the condition of each of our patients and their cancers. For patients who choose to have a bone marrow transplantation, our bone marrow transplantation coordinator works with you and your family every step of the way, assisting with every detail…from financial planning, to psychosocial support, to hospitalization and post-treatment follow-up.
Treatment of Hematological Malignancies (diseases affecting the blood, bone marrow and lymph system)
Treatment will depend on your age, overall health and medical history, the extent of the disease, your tolerance for certain medications, procedures or therapies, and other factors, but may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow or stem cell transplantation, biological therapy (which uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer), blood transfusion, radiation therapy, fracture therapy, medication (to control pain and prevent or treat damage to other parts of the body that may result from the cancer treatment), and surgery.
Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT)
Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is a special therapy for patients with cancer or other diseases which affect the bone marrow. A bone marrow transplant involves taking cells that are normally found in the bone marrow (stem cells), filtering them, and giving them back either to the patient or to another person. The goal of BMT is to transfuse healthy bone marrow cells into a person after their own unhealthy bone marrow has been eliminated.
A bone marrow transplant can be used to:
- Replace diseased, non-functioning bone marrow with healthy functioning bone marrow (for conditions such as leukemia, aplastic anemia, and sickle cell anemia).
- Replace the bone marrow and restore its normal function after high doses of chemotherapy or radiation are given to treat a malignancy. This process is often called “rescue” (for diseases such as lymphoma, neuroblastoma, and breast cancer).
- Replace bone marrow with genetically healthy functioning bone marrow to prevent further damage from a genetic disease process.
Leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, severe aplastic anemia, immune deficiency disorders, and some solid tumor cancers, such as breast or ovarian cancer, are among the diseases that benefit from bone marrow transplantation.
Types of Bone Marrow Transplants
There are different types of bone marrow transplants depending on who the donor is. The different types of bone marrow transplant include:
Autologous bone marrow transplant
The donor is the patient himself/herself. Stem cells are taken from the patient either by bone marrow harvest or apheresis, treated intensively, and then given back to the patient. The term “bone marrow rescue” is often used to describe autologous bone marrow transplants.
Allogeneic bone marrow transplant
The donor shares the same genetic type as the patient. Stem cells are taken either by bone marrow harvest or apheresis from a genetically-matched donor, usually a brother or sister. Other donors for allogeneic bone marrow transplants include parents and unrelated donors identified through national bone marrow registries.
Umbilical cord blood transplant
Stem cells are taken from an umbilical cord immediately after delivery of an infant. These stem cells reproduce into mature, functioning blood cells quicker and more effectively than do stem cells taken from the bone marrow of another child or adult. The stem cells are tested, typed, counted, and frozen until they are ready to be transplanted.
It is highly important to find the right specialist when going for a complicated high stake procedure such as BMT. Dr. Rakesh Ojha is the director of Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant program at IOSPL. He received his medical degree from King George’s Medical University and then went on to do his residency and fellowship (Fox Chase Cancer Center) in USA before returning to India in 2004. Dr. Ojha is American board certified in internal medicine, hematology and medical oncology. He is an active member of The American Society of hematology and an integral part of IOSPL’s mission to provide cutting edge care.