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Graft Vs. Host Disease: A Physician’s Perspective

Three answers from Dr. Amer Zeidan

Middle aged man standing outside.

What are the key things that a person diagnosed with graft-versus host disease (GVHD) needs to know about the condition?

Graft versus host disease can be acute or chronic, depending on how soon it occurs after treatment and the symptoms. Acute graft versus host disease can become chronic, and chronic graft versus host disease can be life-long. The goal is to control the disease with improvement in quality of life, but to minimize side effects of therapy.

In addition to oncologists, what other healthcare providers should a person with graft-versus host disease be working with?

Graft versus host disease can affect the entire body, and treatment usually depends on the parts of the body that are affected by graft versus host disease. If it affects the skin, that would involve a dermatologist. If it affects the liver, that would involve a hepatologist. Eyes would involve an ophthalmologist. The gut would involve a gastroenterologist. Each person’s healthcare team and treatment plan are different, depending on that person’s symptoms and what they need.

What can a person with graft-versus host disease do to get the most out of treatment?

Compliance, education, and working with experienced physicians. If you are living with graft versus host disease, the best thing you can do is follow your treatment plan, keep learning about the condition, and keep working with your healthcare providers.

 

Dr. Amer Zeidan is an associate Professor of Internal Medicine (Hematology) at Yale University.

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