November is National Marrow Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time for you to consider becoming a donor. Volunteers are needed to become marrow donors and to join the National Marrow Donor Registry.
Research at VCU Massey Cancer Center in Richmond is discovering new therapies for blood cancers, including vast improvements in the bone marrow transplant process that have led to safer transplants and have made transplants possible for more patients.
Patients with diseases such as hematologic malignancies (blood cancers) like leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myeloma sometimes need a bone marrow transplant (BMT). Bone marrow is the spongy material that is found inside the bones. In the marrow are stem cells. In some transplants, the patient’s own stem cells are harvested (removed from the blood) and given back to the patient after the patient receives high doses of chemotherapy and occasionally radiation therapy. In other cases, however, the patient needs to have a donor provide the stem cells. The donor can be a relative (related donor) or someone unknown to the patient (unrelated donor).
Seventy percent of bone marrow patients do not have a matching donor in their family. So the more volunteers in the Registry, the greater the chance of finding a matching donor, and the more patients who can be offered the potential for longer, healthier lives.
Article content courtesy of VCU Massey Cancer Center