GCS President Dr. Al Soltan Featured in AJC Story About Bone Marrow Transplants

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Al Soltan, MDDr. Al Soltan, president of Georgia Cancer Specialists (GCS)—a Top 10 private cancer practice in the U.S.—was interviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Shelia Poole for a feature story on the challenges of matching bone marrow donors with individuals needing transplants.

A patient of Dr. Soltan’s, Delia Fernandez, was the lead patient featured. She was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in 2008 and has waited nearly two years for a new bone marrow transplant. The married mother of four was fighting her leukemia with anti-cancer drugs, as well as previous marrow transplants, but to no avail.

Read the full story here: http://www.ajc.com/news/lifestyles/health/transplant-advocate-understands-the-need-personall/nWjCp/

Donor and recipient DNA have to be very close for transplants to be effective, which is why Delia Fernandez wants to encourage all who are able to register as donors, especially African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos, who are severely underrepresented on Be The Match, the Minneapolis-based registry of potential bone marrow donors.

More than 70 types of diseases, including leukemia and lymphoma, can be treated with bone marrow transplants.

“This is not just for me but to help save other people’s lives,” said Fernandez.

Many people are hesitant to register as donors because of the potential risks involved. “There are still a lot of misconceptions about donating,” says Fernandez.

While surgical donation methods like direct bone marrow stem cell collection are utilized, less invasive methods like peripheral blood stem cells donations (PBSC), an outpatient procedure similar to donating platelets or plasma, are alternative options. Less than one percent of PBSC donors experience a serious side effect from the process.

Dr. Soltan said that transplant outcomes have improved over the years in part because of better patient-centered programs and better control of infections. “We get to see many people benefit from the gift of life,” he said.

Georgia Cancer Specialists is a Top 10 private cancer practice in the U.S. and a leader in advanced cancer treatment and research. The practice supports more than 150,000 patient visits each year. GCS offers community-based medical oncology and hematology services and is the first private oncology practice to also provide a full range of support services for patients in Georgia. GCS physicians were the first in Georgia to offer Phase I clinical trials, the most novel cancer therapies available. GCS 46 medical oncologists practice in 27 locations in Metro Atlanta, and North and Central Georgia. Georgia Cancer Specialists can be found on the web at www.gacancer.com. GCS is The Cancer Answer®.

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