Madrid, February 25, 2021.- MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid has developed an innovative healthcare protocol for patients with lymphoma or multiple myeloma who are referred from another hospital for an autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant (commonly known as a bone marrow transplant) can continue their post-transplant care and treatment at their local center in the hometown.
“The aim is for patients to have to travel as little as possible, that they can return home soon and that post-transplant care, as well as the subsequent follow-up of their progress, can be done by the medical team that was treating them in their hometown”, says Dr. Adolfo de la Fuente, head of the Hematology Service at MD Anderson, who emphasizes patient comfort as the central axis of the entire project.
Before this program, after the transplant, the patient had to spend an average of three weeks in the transplant center, since there are usually a series of "side effects inherent to the procedure", which include fever, the need for antibiotics, or red blood cell and platelet transfusions, which require care by a specialized team.
However, with this new protocol, the process changes. Once the transplant is done, "that's when things change," says the doctor. “Instead of staying with us for between two and three weeks in hospital to manage these side effects, what we do is, if they meet a series of necessary criteria to carry out the process safely, the person returns to their hospital of origin. It is there, near their home and in their familiar surroundings, where they complete those two or three weeks of support and support”.
The protocol for treatment with high doses of chemotherapy and auto-transplantation of hematopoietic progenitors (autologous transplantation, that is, of their own stem cells) in a semi-ambulatory regime is already working and, although the network of participating hospitals is still small, it is growing, explains the doctor. "The idea is to be able to bring this service to a greater number of patients, establishing specific agreements and protocols for each of the centers that join the network".
Even simpler for multiple myeloma
In the case of multiple myeloma, we have simplified the process even more, says the hematologist. "We can perform the stem cell transplant with a single trip to MD Anderson Madrid”. "With a single admission, patient transfer, bone marrow collection, a short rest of 24 to 48 hours, preparation and conditioning with high doses of chemotherapy, and the infusion of previously collected cells are all carried out."
“It means everything is much simpler. What used to be several visits to the transplant center and a stay of about 4 weeks, has turned into a single stay of between 7 to 10 days, after which they can return to their local center”, stresses the doctor. “Before this, there were people who did not get to have a transplant because of all the problems that the transfer entailed, so it opens up a whole new world of opportunities for these patients, their family environment and even for their local hospital, since it re-doubles in a medical benefit thanks to closer coordination between different centers, reducing the risk of complications”, concludes Dr. De la Fuente.