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Blood and Marrow Transplant Program Performs 1,000th Stem Cell Transplant

Blood and Marrow Transplant Program Performs 1,000th Stem Cell Transplant

In October of this year, the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program successfully performed the 1,000th stem cell transplant. Kenneth Meehan, MD, who is the Director of the BMT Program noted “This achievement is very much a team effort.” Dr. Meehan, pointed out that more than 800 of the 1,000 transplants have occurred since 2001, when the BMT Program changed directorship and acquired many new team members.

Also in that time, many advancements have been made and outcomes are much different than they were even 10 years ago. For instance, whereas post-procedure hospital stays used to be 4–6 weeks, they now average about 2.5 weeks for autologous transplants (patients receive their own cells). Stem cell transplants for blood malignancies can now be performed less invasively in some cases using the patient’s own blood, rather than their marrow. The procedure itself can be done in the patient’s own hospital room rather than in the operating room.  Medications used to help relieve a patient’s nausea or discomfort from chemotherapy used to last a few hours, and now remain effective for several days. Even the statistical outcomes for all blood malignancies have to be reported in 5-year increments because advancements and improvements are happening so often. “A stem cell transplant used to be viewed as a ‘last-ditch effort’,” explains Dr. Meehan. “Nowadays, morbidity and mortality rates are so low for many blood cancers including forms of lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia, a procedure like this has moved toward the front of the treatment line as one of the first options for consideration.”

Dr. Meehan also emphasizes the excellence of the BMT Program at NCI-designated Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. “We are a very well-regarded program with a strong team.  Our patients have included our own family members, colleagues, even politicians. Our average patient travels more than 2 hours specifically to come here.”  He proudly keeps an old framed photo of the program’s very first transplant patient in his office as a representation of the team’s recognition of the first patient, the 1,000th patient, and the 998 in between.

Congratulations to the BMT team on this tremendous achievement and on the invaluable progress you have made toward blood cancer treatments, and optimal care and outcomes for our patients.

To learn more about the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, please visit cancer.dartmouth.edu/blood-marrow