A bone marrow transplant is a treatment that replaces unhealthy marrow
A bone and marrow transplantation is special treatment for individuals with certain types of cancers. It is also called a bone marrow transplant or a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).
Bone marrow helps make blood stem cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Bone and marrow transplants replace unhealthy marrow with healthy marrow.
An estimated 50,000 individuals receive HSCT every year.
You will get chemotherapy and/or radiation to kill unhealthy cells before your transplant. Then, healthy cells are given to you through an intravenous (IV) line or a tube. The new cells will grow and make healthy blood cells in your marrow.
Our experienced team at Penn State Cancer Institute performs 150-180 procedures each year. We offer the three main types of bone and marrow transplantations:
- Autologous transplants
- Allogeneic transplants
- Haploidentical transplants
Autologous transplants, or autologous HSCTs, use your own blood stem cells for the transplant rather than a donor’s. We collect, freeze and store your stem cells for use later. Once blood cells are collected, you will get high-dose chemotherapy to kill diseased cells. Then, your stem cells will be given back to you through an IV. This can happen months or even years after the initial transplant.
Allogeneic transplants use healthy blood stem cells from someone else. Sometimes stem cells come from a relative. A close match offers a lower risk of side effects and complications after transplant.
You will receive conditioning treatments, called chemoradiotherapy, before your transplant. This helps kill cancer cells and suppress your immune system. Suppressing your immune system is important to help your body accept the transplanted blood stem cells.
Donor cells can be infused through an IV after conditioning treatments are complete. Side effects of allogeneic stem cell transplants may include graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). You will be monitored closely for signs of GVHD. It can be treated with medication and other therapies.
A haploidentical transplant is a type of allogeneic transplant that does not offer a close match. Donated cells often come from a family member when a close match cannot be found. This is a newer type of transplant.
A bone and marrow transplantation is special treatment for individuals with certain types of cancers.
Is a Bone and Marrow Transplant Right for Me?
Hematopoietic stem cell transplants (bone marrow transplants) are used when aggressive blood cancers, diseases or genetic disorders have not responded to conventional treatments. It may be used to treat diseases such as:
- Acute leukemia
- Multiple myeloma
Your oncologist will decide if a bone and marrow transplant is an effective treatment option for you. Your oncologist may recommend stem cell transplantation based on your:
- Past treatment and outcomes
- Personal and family medical history
- Family support system
- Personal motivation to take care of yourself throughout the transplant process
If you have questions or need a referral to the Penn State Cancer Institute, please call 717-531-6585, option 1.
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