Home » Cancer Care » Inside the New Florida Treatment Center That Is Helping Cancer Patients With Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplants

A new adult inpatient blood and marrow transplant center on the East Coast is poised to be a convenient treatment location for patients with leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myelomas and other blood cancers and diseases, who need bone marrow or stem cell transplants.

Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida, recently earned approval from the State of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration to open the Inpatient Blood and Marrow Transplant program. The agency found that the Institute’s program would expand access to transplantation services for transplant patients and could save them time and costs.

Bone marrow – the tissue inside bones that makes white blood cells to fight infections; red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body; and platelets to help stop bleeding – can be impaired by blood cancers including leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myelomas. A bone marrow transplant (BMT) can repair or replace unhealthy marrow with healthy marrow to restore normal cell-making functions. 

BMT is safe and more effective than ever. The transplantation technology can also be used to treat sickle cell disease, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.

Lifesaving procedures

The need for BMTs has been increasing in South Florida. Nationally in 2014, there were 17,303 BMT procedures involving patients over the age of 21. In 2016, there were 1,026 BMT cases in

Florida involving patients over the age of 15. Demand is expected to increase.

“These are lifesaving procedures and the intent is to cure patients,” says Guenther Koehne, M.D., Ph.D., chief of blood and marrow transplantation and hematologic oncology at Miami Cancer Institute, who arrived at Miami Cancer Institute after 22 years at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, making him an excellent alliance partner.

Dr. Dennis Confer, chief medical officer at National Marrow Donor Program/Be the Match agrees.

“There’s a lot of need in the Florida area,” he says, noting patients in the Caribbean could benefit too. “There are a lot of people out there who could benefit from blood and marrow transplantation that are probably not getting their transplants.”

Outpatient services

Also new, Miami Cancer Institute offers outpatient and inpatient autologous stem cell transplants for patients with multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease. That procedure, which saves patients weeks of hospitalization, involves the patient’s own stem cells being collected and then reintroduced.

Allogeneic transplants, which use stem cells from a donor, are indicated for patients with leukemia, myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative disorders and are more complex procedures which always require hospitalization. For these procedures, The Institute built a state-of-the-art stem cell processing and immunotherapy laboratory.

Closer to home

A significant number of bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients leave South Florida to seek treatment for many reasons, including the complexity and duration of transplantation pre-testing and conditioning phases, as well as treatment and post-transplantation care.

“It’s an interruption of the patient’s daily activity to be away for three months, plus a financial burden,” says Dr. Koehne. “It affects the whole family.”

But that could change with The Institute’s new facilities. Getting treatments in facilities close to home is ideal for patients and their families.

Miami Cancer Institute’s new center is also expected to be a convenient location for international patients from Latin America and the Caribbean, who otherwise have limited bone marrow and stem cell transplant treatment options.

“Now we can provide this to everybody here within the area and the Caribbean that wouldn’t require you to go out of state or far away from the Caribbean,” he says. A recently opened Hilton Hotel on The Institute’s campus puts patients and their families within steps of the cancer facility.

Best outcomes

Miami Cancer Institute is Florida’s only member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, a facility that has the country’s largest BMT programs and among the best outcomes for transplantation anywhere.

This progressive collaboration ensures patients have access to innovative cancer treatments and the highest standards of care. Miami Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan Kettering doctors and multidisciplinary disease management teams regularly meet to develop those standards of care.

“When you have such a strong brand attached to the Miami Cancer Institute, it will be very important and very helpful,” says Dr. Confer. “It also gives the opportunity to exchange, meet with Sloan Kettering physicians and to exchange plans and ideas and ensure that patient care plan is well thought-out and thorough.”

Miami Cancer Institute is committed to discovering better cancer preventions and treatments, and delivering some of the best outcomes for cancer patients.

For more information on Miami Cancer Institute and their BMT and stem cell transplants, visit MiamiCancerInstitute.com.

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