Bone marrow is a part of your bones that make blood cells. Marrow is the soft, spongy tissue found inside your bones that contains stem cells that can turn into any type of blood cell. Some types of cancer can keep healthy stem cells from developing normally, but with a bone marrow stem cell treatment they can make new, healthy blood cells. A bone marrow transplant is ideal for patients who have leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma.
Bone Marrow Stem Cell Treatment and Transplants
A bone marrow stem cell transplant replaces cancerous cells or cells that have been damaged or destroyed by chemotherapy and radiation. There are two main types of procedures that involve bone marrow: a bone marrow transplant and a bone stem cell treatment. With the bone marrow transplant, stem cells are collected from the marrow using a large needle. For a stem cell transplant, the stem cells are harvested through the blood. The donor takes medication for five days to help increase stem cell production, and then those stem cells are harvested in a manner similar to donating blood.
This procedure is typically given to patients diagnosed with a range of cancers related to the blood, as well as those with severe blood diseases and immune deficiency diseases. Your doctor or oncologist will recommend the best route of treatment for you. An allogeneic transplant (also known as allo) requires getting stem cells from a donor who has the same HLA tissue type. An autologous transplant (also known as auto) uses the patient’s own stem cells that are collected from the blood and frozen. The type of treatment given depends on the patient’s unique diagnosis and condition as well as age, health, and the ability to collect the stem cells either directly or from a donor.
Risks and Expectations
For allogenic transplants, stem cells donated from a healthy person can help to fight off any cancer cells in the patient. In some cases, there is a risk that the donor’s cells could attack the patient’s healthy cells. Patients are given drugs to suppress the immune system to reduce this risk. For autologous transplants, the risk is much less since the patient is using their own bone marrow stem cells.
After the transplant, patients may need to remain in the hospital for several weeks. Doctors will carefully monitor the patient for any complications, and they may also treat the patient for any side effects experienced from the treatment. The total recovery process is long, and patients will need frequent follow-up visits and care. Anyone who undergoes bone marrow stem cell transplants should follow their doctor’s instructions carefully for best results and a path to healing.
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