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Helen F. Graham Cancer Center
& Research Institute

Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplants

Bone marrow and stem cell transplants can be life-saving for people with blood cancers, solid tumors and some non-cancerous blood disorders. The Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Christiana Hospital offers today’s most advanced and sophisticated techniques for patients who need peripheral blood stem cells (those that mature into red or white blood cells, or platelets) or bone-marrow transplants, including the newest, low-dose chemotherapy “mini” transplants. Transplants may be autologous (self-donated) or allogeneic (from a related or unrelated donor).

The hematologists/oncologists who specialize in bone-marrow and stem-cell therapy are part of a multidisciplinary team of experts ready to assist you and your family as you face the challenges of recovery. This team may include members of the Lymphoma Multidisciplinary Center who meet regularly at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.

As a candidate for bone marrow or stem cell transplantation, you will be assisted by a nurse navigator—an oncology-certified or master’s prepared oncology nurse—who will be on hand to answer your questions throughout your entire treatment. Your nurse navigator will work closely with the members of your treatment team to help you get the care and support services you need, both in and out of the hospital.

Your evaluation and treatment team may include the following:

  • A hematologist/oncologist who specializes in bone marrow transplantation as well as the diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers and other blood disorders. He will supervise your chemotherapy and perform your bone-marrow or stem-cell transplant.
  • A radiation oncologist who can use advanced radiation therapy techniques to help destroy tumors and prevent rejection of transplanted bone marrow or stem cells.
  • A surgeon who can perform a biopsy to see if your tumor is malignant.
  • A pathologist to examine tumor samples to identify and determine the extent of the cancer.

Together, these specialists, in consultation with your primary-care doctor, will work with you to create the most appropriate and effective plan of treatment for your blood disorder.

Tomorrow’s treatments today

New techniques for stimulating stem cells and the use of peripheral blood stem cells have led to shorter treatment times and better results for many patients. Similarly, low-dose, immunosuppressive chemotherapy and radiation prior to transplant has become a viable option, especially for older patients.

Participation in clinical research studies such as those sponsored by the National Cancer Institute’s Community Clinical Oncology Program, particularly in the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, as well as in other national and local studies, offers access to the very latest treatment protocols. A research nurse will meet with you to discuss potential participation in a clinical treatment study.

Finding the right match

We participate in the donor-matching program and will tailor your transplant to your body and your disease. Membership in the National Marrow Donor Program enables searches on a national and international level to locate potential bone-marrow donors who may be unrelated but whose tissue is the right match for you. We also participate in the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry and the Autologous Blood and Marrow Transplant Registry.

Serving Delaware and the region

The Bone Marrow Transplant Unit is one of the only such programs in our region, serving patients in Delaware and surrounding communities in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The majority of the bone-marrow and stem-cell transplants are performed on an outpatient basis. However, the bone-marrow transplant program operates a fully equipped inpatient unit for procedures requiring longer hospital stays. We can assist you and your family to find overnight accommodations when necessary.

Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute
4701 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark, DE 19713 directions