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?

1 comment:

Julie Matthews said...

I didn't realize bone marrow/stem cell transplants were used for patients with metastatic breast cancer, but I certainly plan on researching it.

I had a stem cell transplant when my acute myelogenous leukemia came back about a year and a half ago. Fred Hutchinson ( is the mecca for transplants, and I recommend contacting them for any information. It's interesting...when I went out there in October for my one year check-up, my nurse told me they were doing studies on stem cell transplants for patients with glioblastomas. It seems like it may be a promising procedure for many patients.

I think I'd be a good poster child for stem cell transplants. :) You know something truly amazing? I only spent five days in the hospital during the whole process, and they were before I even had the transplant, when they infused radioactive iodine.

Now I'm healthy and working at an organization that raises funds for breast cancer research through the sport of volleyball (The Side-Out Foundation:

I'm so happy I found your blog, and I look forward to reading more.

Take care,