Blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) can lead to many side effects. Because some of these side effects occur years after transplant, survivors need to be examined regularly by a physician knowledgeable about the late effects of BMT. These side effects can also occur due to treatments prior to stem cell transplant, such as chemotherapy and radiation. To help BMT survivors enjoy the best health possible after their transplants, UC San Diego Health offers a unique, long-term follow-up program for our allogeneic patients. It offers support for both physical and psychological problems.
The BMT Survivorship Program aims to identify patients who should be closely monitored and aggressively treated to prevent complications from cardiovascular disease or other serious issues.
The Survivorship Program is for allogeneic transplant patients, who may be at risk for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and have a higher risk for other complications. Your first visit is usually a one-hour visit with a physician or nurse practitioner. Visits begin about a year after your transplant, and continue annually.
Services are individualized based on your previous treatments, but can include:
- Discussion of recent medical history and cancer treatment effects
- Screenings for:
- Cardiovascular risk factors
- Thyroid issues
- Diabetes risk factors
- Bone health
- Kidney and liver function
- Discussion of lifestyle issues, including sun protection, exercise, and nutrition
- Assessment to detect recurrence of cancer, or appearance of secondary cancers that have a higher rate among BMT patients
- Meeting with a social worker for emotional or social challenges
- Treatment summary and followup plan
If any follow-up treatment is necessary, we can coordinate with your primary physician and/or medical oncologist.
A support group can help patients deal with the difficulties and stresses of post-transplant life. We offer a quarterly support group with a different discussion topic each meeting to help survivors and their families adjust to life after treatment and learn about available services. If you are interesting in receiving e-mails about our transplant survivorship group meetings, call 858-822-6600 for more information.
Physical activity is important in maintaining strength and can decrease fatigue. We encourage our patients to regularly participate in gentle exercise prior, during and after stem cell transplantation. Check with your doctor before starting the exercise and if you have any concerns.