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A stem cell transplant is recommended for the treatment of several types of cancers including leukemia, multiple myelomas, or some types of lymphoma. Certain blood diseases can also be resolved with stem cell transplants.
The bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue inside bones containing “hematopoietic” stem cells. The stem cells are responsible for the production of bone marrow cells and blood cells. Cancer and other diseases interfere with the normal functioning of the hematopoietic stem cells, thereby affecting the production of normal blood cells. A stem cell transplant infuses new stem cells in the body for the production of healthy blood cells.
In an Autologous transplant, a patient's own stem cells are used. The stem cells collected from the patient's blood are frozen and preserved. This procedure is followed by powerful chemotherapy to obliterate the cancerous cells. Subsequently, the preserved stem is reintroduced to the blood stream. They normally take 24 hours to reach the bone marrow and start multiplying to produce healthy cells.
Allogeneic transplantation, on the other hand, uses stem cells of a suitable match. Extreme caution should be exercised in finding the best possible match, any lapse can cause a fatal condition called graft- versus-host disease. Umbilical cord blood transplant is an option when you don't find a suitable donor. Haplotype mismatched transplant is also a choice when a suitable match is not found. The match is 50%, instead of near 100%. Your donor might be a parent, child, a brother, or a sister. Factors like the health of your bone marrow, age, and general health are considered before selecting the type of transplant suitable for a patient.
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