Windsor Cancer Program – Stem Cell Transplant

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Windsor Regional Cancer Program Approved For Vital Stem Cell Transplant Day 1 Program.

The Board of Directors of Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) recently approved the implementation of a specialized Stem Cell Transplant Day 1 Transfer Program for Autologous patients. This program will accept autologous transplant patients from the London Regional Cancer Program (LRCP) one day post stem cell transplant for care close-to-home.

Program funding will come from Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) and will contribute to reducing the current wait list for stem cell transplants that currently exist within the province.

For autologous transplantation, the patient receives his or her own bone marrow or stem cells that were collected and frozen before admission for high-dose chemotherapy or radiation. The stem cell transplant generally occurs one to three days after a patient’s last chemotherapy dose or anytime after their last radiation dose, as the case may be.

The day of transplantation is referred to as Day 0. The days before the transplant are counted as minus days and the days after the transplant are plus days. Advances in the treatment of cancer and improvements in supportive care over the past 10 years have improved the results and tolerability of stem cell transplants. However, a stem cell transplant remains an involved and very complicated procedure.

This past year 21 Windsor-Essex residents had autologous stem cell transplantation in either London and/or Hamilton. Their average length of stay post transplantation is approximately 13 days.

Over the last year, CCO has been working to address complex malignant hematology needs,which include a focus on access, infrastructure and funding across the province. Through this strategic planning process and in response to current capacity issues, CCO has requested regional cancer programs, including Windsor, to work toward program development locally.

Stem Cell Transplant programs require the establishment of formalized programs which include highly specialized expert transplant providers. WRH was in a fortunate position to already have an expert team of physicians within the regional cancer program with extensive experience in stem cell transplant.

Dr. Caroline Hamm, medical oncologist within Windsor Regional Cancer Program currently participates in a provincial expert panel on stem cell transplant that consistently reviews wait lists and access within the province.

Dr. Hamm, along with her colleagues, Dr. Mohammad Jarrar, Dr. Indryas Woldie, Dr. Sindu Kanjeekal and Inpatient Oncology Manager, Kit McCann, will form an implementation team for Day 1 Transfer of Autologous Transplant. This exceptional leadership team achieved the specialized care for these vulnerable patients through the approval process.

“This program allows patients to come back home, where they belong, while recovering from their treatment. It is the ongoing development that started with the Schulich Medical & Dentistry Program, Windsor Campus; the recruitment and retention of clinical expertise;, along with the vision of a new state-of-the-art acute care hospital, The new acute care hospital and hospital system will continue to attract the expertise for clinical care, education and research. Our future is very promising for Windsor-Essex and we need to do everything we can to make that future a reality.” – Dr. Carolyn Hamm, Medical Oncologist with the Windsor Regional Cancer Program.

“This is wonderful news for our community to have this expertise close to home and it will allow our patients to receive the care they need in their own region.” said Monica Staley, Vice President, Regional Cancer and Renal Programs. Monica states further “As stated by Dr Hamm the future looks very promising for Windsor-Essex as we develop into a state of the art health care delivery system”.

The end result is achieving the existing needs of these patients in a proactive approach and the opportunity for trainees to learn higher levels of expertise. Next steps include working with the London Regional Cancer Program and Hamilton Health Sciences on an implementation plan for this specialized initiative.

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