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Types of Cancer We Treat

Bone Marrow Transplant Program

Bone marrow transplants provide renewed hope for a cure for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome and some anemias, immune deficiency disorders, and solid tumors.

Patients diagnosed with blood cancers require specialized treatment. Geisinger offers the latest medical advancements for the treatment of these cancers.

Become a donor

For more information on becoming a bone marrow donor or to join the registry, visit the National Marrow Donor Program at http://www.marrow.org/.

Treatment

Our team of hematologists and oncologists are fellowship-trained and board-certified, which results in an impressive understanding of the cancer disease process and the most effective treatments to fight it.

Patients who undergo autologous and allogeneic bone marrow transplantation require convenience and close-to-home care. Geisinger is one of only a few rural health care centers in the nation that can offer this kind of advanced bone marrow transplant care, in such a convenient setting.

Although many inpatient transplants are performed, Geisinger performs several autologous bone marrow transplants on an outpatient basis, allowing patients to recover in their home. Geisinger employs the latest transplantation techniques, including collection of bone marrow stem cells through an IV in the arm, for most patients, rather than through a catheter in the chest.

Our Team

Physician Team Leaders:

The Geisinger Difference

FACT logoAs one of the few programs that are part of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), and the only one in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, Geisinger can connect bone marrow recipients with donors throughout the country.

Geisinger is also FACT Accredited.  FACT Accreditation demonstrates commitment to quality in cellular therapy and blood and marrow transplantation through adherence to rigorous standards verified by periodic inspection and peer review.

For patients with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome and some anemias, immune deficiency disorders and solid tumors, bone marrow transplants provide renewed hope for a cancer cure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a bone marrow transplant?
Blood and marrow transplantation are medical procedures used to treat diseases once thought incurable. Blood and marrow transplantation is used to treat patients diagnosed with leukemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and some anemias, immune deficiency disorders and solid tumors. The primary purpose of bone marrow transplants is to allow cancer patients to receive very high doses of chemo or radiation therapy.

Blood-forming stem cells are found in bone marrow, the soft sponge-like material found inside of bones, and in the bloodstream. They are the basis for building white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets in the body.

In peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, stem cells are removed from the bloodstream during a process called apheresis or leukapheresis. The blood then goes through a machine which removes the stem cells, the remaining blood is returned to the patient/donor and the collected stem cells are stored for future use.  The stem cells are administered to the patient after he or she has been treated with high-dose chemotherapy or radiation.

In a bone marrow transplant, the patient's diseased bone marrow is destroyed using chemotherapy or radiation and healthy marrow is infused into the patient's bloodstream. In a successful transplant, the new bone marrow begins producing normal blood cells in the patient’s bones.

What Is an Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant?
In an autologous transplant, the patient is the donor. The patient’s own blood-forming stem cells are collected and stored. He or she is treated with high levels of chemotherapy and then the blood-forming stem cells are infused back into the patient.

What Is an Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant?
In an allogeneic transplant, the patient and the donor are different people, but have compatible DNA markers. Blood-forming stem cells are collected from the donor, the patient receives high-dose chemotherapy, and the donor’s cells are given to the patient through an IV.

Geisinger and bone marrow transplants
Geisinger has performed autologous bone marrow transplants since 1998 and has had great success. In April 2008, the Bone Marrow Transplant Program was expanded to include allogeneic transplants.

How can I become a bone marrow donor?
To become a bone marrow donor, a person has a medical exam to determine their overall health and takes a blood test to determine their blood type and DNA. Once they are determined a match for a cancer patient, the donor undergoes more advanced blood testing to reconfirm the DNA match.

Before the bone marrow stem cell donation, a donor takes shots called “filgrastim” for five days to boost their blood-forming cells. On the fifth day, the donor is connected to an apheresis machine with a needle in each arm for approximately six hours. During the procedure, blood is removed from the body, bone marrow stem cells are collected and the blood and platelets are returned to the donor in their other arm.

Once the bone marrow stem cells are removed, they are processed and infused into the cancer patient’s body intravenously.

Is donating bone marrow painful?
Some donors find the needle sticks in each arm uncomfortable, but rarely donors have physical pain. The process is very similar to donating blood, but takes several hours longer.

Will bone marrow be removed from my hipbones?
Many donors are nervous because they associate donating bone marrow cells with over sized needles previously used to collect stem cells from the hip. With advancements in technology, the process of collecting bone marrow stem cells from the hip bone is rarely, if ever used today.

Why should I become a bone marrow donor?
Bone marrow stem cell donation can save the life of a cancer patient once their body stops responding to chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Often, a bone marrow transplant is the only hope for a cancer patient to overcome their disease.