This is a process to substitute damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells.
What is bone marrow?
It is the soft, fatty tissue inside your bones which produces blood cells. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells in the bone marrow that give rise to all of the different blood cells.
Bone marrow transplants can be used for treating patients with:
- Leukemia….a life-threatening blood cancers
- Aplastic anemia….disease which result in bone marrow failure
- other immune system or hereditary diseases
There are 3 types of bone marrow transplants:
A stem cell transplant is performed after completion of chemotherapy and radiation. The stem cells are passed through into bloodstream usually through a tube called a central venous catheter. The process is similar to a blood transfusion. The stem cells pass through the blood into the bone marrow. Mostly no surgery is required.
Donor stem cells are collected in 2 ways:
- Bone marrow harvest
It might cause the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- reduction in blood pressure
- Headache & nausea
- Shortness of breath
Several researches on transplant has led to increase the survival rates with time, which has led to more patients seeking for this treatment and getting benefited. For many diseases, bone marrow transplant is the only cure option at this time.
How successful the transplant is depends on:
- The type of transplant
- How well the donor’s cells matches
- What type of cancer or illness treated
- Age and health
- Type and dosage of chemotherapy or radiation therapy that has been given
- Any complications that might arise
A bone marrow transplant may completely or partially cure the illness. If the transplant is a success, one can go back to most of their normal activities as soon as they feel well. Usually it takes up to 1 year to recover fully, depending on what complications occur.
Complications or failure of the bone marrow transplant can lead to death.
Why the Procedure is done?
A bone marrow transplant replaces bone marrow that is either damaged or has been destroyed (ablated) by chemotherapy or radiation. Physicians believe that for many cancers, the donor’s white blood cells might attack any remaining cancer cells, very much like the white cells attack bacteria or viruses when fighting an infection.
A physician might recommend a bone marrow transplant under following concerns:
- Certain cancers for example lymphoma, leukemia, myelodysplasia and multiple myeloma
- A disease that affects the production of bone marrow cells, like aplastic anemia, congenital neutropenia, severe immune system illnesses, sickle cell anemia, and thalassemia
- Undergone chemotherapy that destroyed the bone marrow
How a transplant works
An autologous transplant is used for treatment of cancer using very high doses of chemotherapy that damages the bone marrow as a side effect. The autologous blood cell types replace the damaged marrow. This is how such transplants are used to do away with certain types of cancers such as lymphoma.
An allogeneic transplant also treats blood cancer, and offers the advantage of utilising the donor’s immune system to recognize and kill the cancer cells. Allogeneic transplant is also used for treatment of some non-cancerous diseases like sickle cell anemia. In diseases besides cancer,the transplant substitutes defective marrow cells with the donor’s healthy ones.