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BONE MARROW AND STEM CELL TRANSPLANTS

Chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy damages normal cells as well as cancer cells. At high doses the bone marrow may be damaged or destroyed, and the patient may not be able to produce the necessary blood cells. In a Bone marrow transplant (BMT), marrow containing healthy stem cells is infused to replace those damaged by the high dose therapy, so that the patient can produce blood cells again.

MORE ABOUT BONE MARROW AND STEM CELL TRANSPLANTS

Alternatively a peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT) may be given. While blood is not as rich in stem cells as bone marrow advances in transplantation mean that PBSCT (“stem cell rescue”) is increasingly being used in the treatment of certain cancers. Overview There are many different types of blood cell, but they all develop from stem cells. Most of these stem cells are found in the bone marrow (the soft inside part of the bone), although some are found in the blood (peripheral blood stem cells).

There are 3 types of transplant:

  • Allogenic transplants are where marrow is donated by another person
  • Autologous transplants involve cells being taken from the patient, stored, and then reinfused following high-dose therapy
  • Syngenic transplants are where the donor is an identical twin

BMT may be given for certain types of cancer, and only under specific circumstances. BMT has been widely used to treat specific cancers in children such as leukemia, lymphoma, and neuroblastoma. It is still being evaluated for the treatment of some other types of cancer. There are various potential side effects associated with transplantation, these will largely depend on how well matched the donor’s cells are to the patient’s cells.

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