Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Bone marrow/stem cell transplant
I’m sure the latest O magazine has triggered a lot of questions to oncologists about bone marrow transplants.
"Turning a Death Sentence Into a Passport for Life: When Katherine Russell Rich was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, she was told she would likely die in 24 months. That was 17 years ago."
The article tells the story of a woman who had a successful bone marrow transplant 10 years ago. I also know of a woman who is living cancer free 12+ years after a bone stem cell transplant.
Bone marrow and bone stem transplants were done in a clinical trial several years ago. It involved harvesting your own (or a donor’s) bone marrow, high dose chemotherapy, and then re-injecting the harvested bone marrow.
Bone marrow transplants are no longer done because of the high risk and low success statistics. It is my understanding that a high number of the women in the study died during or shortly after the treatment.
Yet, there are some people that it worked for. When I asked Dr C about it, he said that, while they all know people who did well, the overall statistics don’t support the procedure and therefore are not an option.
When a woman has metastatic cancer and is running out of options, I think this should still be available. Knowing the facts, we should have the right to take the risk if we choose. I suspect that cost is a huge factor (it is a tricky procedure and involves a long hospital stay).
What do you know or think about bone marrow transplants for metastatic breast cancer?