Sorry for the delay in getting this article out–today is a travel day. I’m on my way back to Tampa after speaking to a LLS support group in Scranton, Pennsylvania last evening.
Nice folks! Survivors and caregivers were all positive and shared uplifting stories. The food was great and my bed was warm. Got an early start today but my plane back to TPA has been delayed, so I thought I would work on this now while I have the chance.
There were lots of questions about bone marrow biopsies at the meeting. Several participants also asked about how radiation might effect test results. It reminded me of an e-mail I recieved a week ago in response to a reader’s question about bone marrow biopsies and radiation:
You cannot use the sternum site for biopsies only for aspirations. This is because the one density of the sternum is small and very thin compared to the hip and core production can cause significant damage.
Bone marrow is considered “compromised” when prior damage (pelvic radiation in your case) has altered the normal structure of the marrow. Biopsy material is also considered compromised when there is inadequate amount or quality of the bone marrow to assess properly.
Bone marrow structure is highly organized. Think of it as similar to a honeycomb. The comb or structure is created by a combination of collagen and support cells onto which the blood cells cling – for food, hormone transfer, waste material removal, etc. The space in which honey usually accumulates is typically much smaller than the example honeycomb and is filled with blood vessels, lymphatics, and intercellular fluids. Alterations in that environment might cause the collagen to be replaced by scar tissue and scar tissue is difficult to remove by biopsy techniques. Many malignant cells also alter both the support structure and the space between that structure such that a “dry” tap – an aspirate attempt in which no marrow is collected – can occur.
Susan J. Leclair, Ph.D., CLS(NCA)
Department of Medical Laboratory Science
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
It was kind of Dr. Leclair to take time out of her busy day to answer that question–and to allow me to share it with my readers. Thank you, Susan! And thank you all who took the time to brave the cold, rainy Scranton weather and listen to my presentation and share their stories last night.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat