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Nurses develop tool to assess graft-vs-host disease

Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have developed a new tool to assess the severity of chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD), a major complication of stem cell transplantation.

Loretta Williams, PhD, RN, AOCN, OCN, an instructor in the Department of Symptom Research at MD Anderson, was the lead author on the study, which analyzed cGVHD symptoms.  Researchers were able to identify five clinically significant and unique cGVHD symptoms, including muscle weakness, skin problems, eye problems, joint stiffness/soreness and changes in sexual function.  As a result of the study, researchers created cGVHD- specific symptom assessment that can be administered in person or over the phone.

“For the first time ever, we have a reliable tool to provide better support to patients following their transplant,” Williams said.  “This may lead to better outcomes following stem cell transplantation.”

The study was funded by a grant from the Oncology Nursing Society.


Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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