What’s delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, but can’t fit into a letter or package?
The untold hope that a bone marrow match can bring to patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening blood diseases.
Since holding its first drive in Baltimore in 1997, the Postal Service has become the largest contributor to the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be The Match Registry, adding more than 40,000 potential donors to the nonprofit registry.
Postal workers comprise the second largest civilian workforce in the country, and perhaps more importantly, one of its most diverse. Offering free tissue type-testing to its employees, their spouses and dependents is one way of harnessing that diversity and leveling the playing field for patients with blood diseases.
About 70% of patients do not have a donor in their family, and only 7% of potential donors on the national registry are African American, according to the NMDP.
In hopes of improving awareness, the NMDP has tapped larger-than-life basketball star Shaquille O’Neal , while its fundraising arm gave the Postal Service its first-ever “Rod Carew Award for Leadership” in recognition of saving more lives – 80 – than any other business organization in the country.
Not bad for a group of workers that have been the butt of jokes for years and frequently endure our ire this time of year.
Anyone interested in becoming a potential bone marrow or cord blood donor can contact the registry at: www.marrow.org.
Patrice Wendling (on Twitter @pwendl)
Dermatologists: Don’t just send your patients out the door to a hematologist-oncologist when their early stage cutaneous T-cell lymphoma progresses.
Dr. Frank Glass
“I encourage dermatologists to stay involved, even with stage IIB or III patients. We know clinically what is going on, but a lot of times dermatology tends to drop out of the game,” Dr. Frank Glass said at the Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgeons meeting.
“Many patients tend to get overtreated if they are not anchored by what we’re doing in dermatology.” Chemotherapy is an example. “The consensus is that survival is likely to be the same even with aggressive chemotherapy,” said Dr. Glass of the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa.
Dr. Elise Olsen (photos by D. McNamara)
“The oncologists are really moving away from doing chemotherapy, really because of the cross-pollination with dermatologists,” said Dr. Elise Olsen, professor of dermatology and oncology at Duke University. ”This is a big shift for oncologists.”
The latest update to cutaneous T-cell lymphoma guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network–which recommend immunomodulators first and chemotherapy second–are a positive sign of increased collaboration between these specialties, Dr. Olsen said. “It’s important for patients to come through us … so we can try immunomodulators first.”
A move toward greater collaboration is coming in the form of the United States Consortium for Cutaneous Lymphomas. Dr. Olsen is working with dermatologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, and other clinicians to set up this new multidisciplinary effort. A web site and registry for early-stage patients is forthcoming. Dr. Olsen wants to private doctors to enter their early stage patients, even those in remission, to the registry. ”We want to see if there are pockets of [cutaneous T-cell lymphoma] around the country, to look for environmental factors.”
–Damian McNamara, @MedReporter on Twitter
Courtesy of Flickr user rpongsaj under creative commons license.
From the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Francisco.
This year marks the 50th anniversary
of the American Society of Hematology, and there was plenty of celebration and self-appreciation at the group’s annual meeting. Among the special events — a screening of a new documentary called Blood Detectives, to air on Discovery Health channel on Dec. 19, 2008 at 7 p.m. EST/PST (with repeats).
it’s not. (I love his Medical Detectives
stories.) It’s more of a series of profiles that puts a human face on patients with blood disorders and gives some star turns to the doctors who help them. Check out the trailer
and see what you think.
— Sherry Boschert
From the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in San Francisco.
The very international gathering at the ASH meeting in San Francisco included some attendees who seemed delighted to be in the United States for their first time since the U.S. presidential election, and almost giddy over our choice for president.
Photo by Sherry Boschert
One physician from Hong Kong ended his presentation at a press conference by asking, Can we bring change to the treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) and give patients with refractory disease new hope by offering the experimental drug eltrombopag? And answering his own question with, “Yes, we can!”
Another physician from Germany ended his part of the press conference by saying — Can we change our platelet transfusion strategy to hold off on transfusions until there is clinically significant bleeding. “I will say with your president-elect, we can!”
Those were cute. But two days later after an Italian physician presented his study at a plenary session, a British colleague stepped to the microphone during Q&A and asked, apropos of nothing, “Are you happy about the new president?” Seeing the look of bewilderment on the presenter’s face, the Brit added, “I mean the United States president.” Just in case people thought he was talking about the new ASH president.
I like Obama as much as the next person, but can we move on from campaign sloganeering now? Yes, we can.
— Sherry Boschert