Help save lives by spreading the word about bone marrow donation in dental offices

By increasing patient awareness of the vital need for bone marrow donors, dental professionals can help grow the national donor base, and ultimately, save lives.

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By increasing patient awareness of the vital need for bone marrow donors, dental professionals can help grow the national donor base, and ultimately, save lives.

Wouldn’t you like to save a life if you are able to?

When someone has cancer, there may be no hope. However, certain cancers may be “cured” with a bone marrow transplant, a procedure that replaces damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells. Cancers of the blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system, are the third leading cause of cancer deaths. These diseases include leukemia and lymphoma. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, the body's disease-fighting network, and leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. (1, 2) Many patients need bone marrow or other transplants to survive, and sometimes transplants are scarce. This article will show you how to get involved.

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Delete Blood Cancer DKMS facilitates a program for dental offices that can help increase the number of bone marrow donors. Over the last two years, more than 400 dental practices have participated in this lifesaving initiative. (3) A dentist was motivated by a patient who survived cancer as a result of a bone marrow transplant. He formed a registry of bone marrow donors at dental practices across his home state, helping to start dental campaign that has grown.

How it works is very simple. In dental offices that wish to be a part of the program, the staff is trained and given information needed to successfully promote the enterprise and educate patients about the vital need for further bone marrow donors. Patients in a dental office can register as potential bone marrow donors during their oral health care appointment, accompanied by a self-administered cheek swab that takes mere seconds.

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This is how bone marrow donations are implemented. The most common is a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, a nonsurgical outpatient procedure that collects blood stem cells via the bloodstream. It takes about four to eight hours over one or two days. (4) A bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure lasting from one to two hours and is performed under anesthesia. Bone marrow cells are collected from the back of your pelvic bone using a syringe. (4) There are side effects to both procedures. With the PBSC donation, one may have flu-like symptoms (e.g., headaches, bone and muscle aches, fatigue). With a bone marrow donation,one can expect some pain, bruising and stiffness for up to two weeks after the procedure.

Delete Blood Cancer’s DKMS mission is to “delete blood cancer by inspiring as many people as possible to register as bone marrow donors to provide patients with second chances at life.” (5) They have branches in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Spain. Globally, they have registered over five million donors and provided more than 51,000 patients with second chances at life. (5) For additional information on how your office can help by registering bone marrow donors, email dental@deletebloodcancer.org.

This article originally appeared in RDH eVillage Focus, a newsletter prepared for dental professionals looking for hard-hitting, current information. You can subscribe here.

References
1. Leukemia - for health professionals. National Cancer Institute website. http://www.cancer.gov/types/leukemia/hp. Accessed November 18, 2015.
2. Lymphoma - for health professionals. National Cancer Institute website. http://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/hp. Accessed November 18, 2015.
3. Dental offices rally to save lives. Delete Blood Cancer DKMS website. http://www.deletebloodcancer.org/Dental. Accessed November 18, 2015.
4. Register as a donor. Delete Blood Cancer DKMS website. http://www.deletebloodcancer.org/en/register. Accessed November 18, 2015.
5. About Us. Delete Blood Cancer DKMS website. http://www.deletebloodcancer.org/en/about. Accessed November 18, 2015.


Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS, is the editorial director of RDH eVillage Focus.

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