The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare has added a hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplant cancer treatment program through its new Cancer Transplant Institute.

The new cancer treatment program is expected to attract transplant patients from greater Phoenix, across Arizona and the southwestern United States. HSC transplants are primarily used to treat patients with aggressive cancers such as myelomas, leukemias and lymphomas.

The Cancer Transplant Institute at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center is located on the campus of Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, and includes an outpatient treatment unit and a 13-bed inpatient unit.

Cancer patients needing HSC transplants receive very high doses of chemotherapy designed to kill aggressive tumors. In the process their own bone marrow is damaged, resulting in low blood counts and weakened immune systems. Stem cells that are collected prior to therapy are then given to “rescue” the patient from the effects of the high dose therapy. Stem cells can be collected from the patients themselves (autologous) or a donor (allogeneic). Although often referred to as a bone marrow transplant, more commonly the stem cells are now collected from the blood stream.

“In these aggressive disorders regular chemotherapy isn’t enough to kill the tumor cells,” explains bone marrow transplant specialist Jeffrey Schriber, MD, medical director of the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Cancer Transplant Institute. “Unfortunately, the high dose therapy is so intense that without the stem cell rescue, patients would not survive due to the lack of white cells which prevent infection and platelets that prevent bleeding. This therapy allows us to safely give the chemotherapy necessary to cure these aggressive cancers.”

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Working with patients
A critical component to success is working closely with the patient’s primary oncologist to develop an appropriate plan for them, said Schriber. “We are thrilled that despite just opening our doors we have already seen over 50 patients and performed our first transplant,” he noted.

The Cancer Transplant Institute at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center is accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) for autologous and allogeneic adult transplants. The Institute also is a member of the National Marrow Transplant Program (NMDP), which enables it to perform unrelated donor transplants.

“The Cancer Transplant Institute brings an invaluable service to the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center and the community, and we are honored to have this program here at Scottsdale Healthcare,” said Lindsay Thomas, RN, MSN, OCN, CNAA, director of oncology services.

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