Stem cell (bone marrow and blood) transplantation is a valuable and often curative treatment for a number of aggressive, advanced cancers. It is particularly effective for leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma cancers of the blood system. Transplantation is also useful in some advanced cases of breast, kidney, ovary and testicular cancer. Stem cell donors may be related or unrelated to the patient, or in many cases are the patients themselves.
The Saskatchewan Blood and Marrow Transplant Program is based in Saskatoon and offers a full range of stem cell transplants to eligible patients. It is a relatively new but highly successful program sponsored by the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, with the assistance of the Royal University Hospital. The program is active in national and international clinical trials. The staff of the program also care for the majority of patients with cancers of the blood system (hematology).
The success of our program depends on the hard work of many people from all areas of health care. High quality laboratory support is critical for proper diagnosis, treatment and follow-up, as well as for research purposes. Our program is fortunate in that it is one of a handful across the country that has its own specialized laboratory. The laboratory performs some of the routine tests associated with stem cell transplantation, as well as conducting basic and clinical research. Our major focus is in two areas. We are interested in finding out what growth factors support the growth of blood and bone marrow cancer cells early in disease, and we are developing new, non-toxic methods to allow for donor stem cells to take ("engraft") in patients' bone marrow.