Saturday, August 23, 2014

How Stem Cell Transplants Work

I haven't listened to Yale Cancer Center Answers recently, so when I visited their web page this week, I saw that one of their shows in June was on Stem Cell Transplants. It's a pretty good introduction to the topic.

(The link above will take you to a pdf of the show's transcript. If you'd like to listen to the show, click here and scroll down to the June 15, 2014 link.)

Yale Cancer Center Answers is a weekly radio show put together by the Smilow Cancer Center at Yale, focusing each week on a different cancer-related topic. There are three hosts, and they interview a cancer specialist from Smilow each week -- usually a researcher, though sometimes a nurse or social worker if the topic calls for it.

For the Stem Cell show, the guest was Dr. Stuart Seropian, a blood cancer specialist; he is interviewed by Dr. Steven Gore, who is Director of Hematological Malignancies at Yale.

As I said, I think the interview does a nice job of laying out the basics of how a Stem Cell Transplant works, the difference between Auto and Allo transplants, as well as some of the issues related to transplants, like Host vs. Graft Disease, and how to become a donor.

While the interview does a great job of laying out the basics of a Stem Cell Transplant, it doesn't get too deep into things like more recent research, I recommend a trip to's STC page. Great information, easy to find.

It's interesting to think about the role an STC might play for some of us in the future. It will probably be an option for us for a very long time, though given that it is essentially a chemotherapy procedure, I don't know if some of the procedures being developed -- targeted inhibitors, for example -- will ultimately replace chemotherapy. That will mean a big debate about the goal of Follicular Lymphoam treatment -- to cure? or to control?

Of course, that debate is already happening.

In the meantime, it's good to know all we can about the options available to us.

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