Stem Cell Transplantation and Leukemia

Doctors may treat some types of leukemia with stem cell transplantation. Leukemia treatment involving stem cell transplantation allows a person with the cancer to be treated with high doses of drugs, radiation, or both. The stem cells can come from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or (in some cases) umbilical cord blood and may be supplied by the patient or a donor. Side effects of stem cell transplantation with leukemia treatment may include an increased risk for infection and bleeding. Other side effects of the treatment may involve graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).

Stem Cell Transplantation and Leukemia: An Overview

Stem cell transplantation is used to treat some patients with leukemia. A stem cell transplant allows a patient to be treated with high doses of drugs, radiation, or both. The high doses destroy both leukemia cells and normal blood cells in the bone marrow. The patient will then receive healthy stem cells through a flexible tube that is placed in a large vein in the neck or chest area. New blood cells develop from the transplanted stem cells.

Types of Stem Cell Transplantation

There are several types of stem cell transplantation, which include:
  • Bone marrow transplantation -- The stem cells come from bone marrow.
  • Peripheral stem cell transplantation -- The stem cells come from peripheral blood.
  • Umbilical cord blood transplantation -- For children with no donor, the doctor may use stem cells from umbilical cord blood from a newborn baby. In some cases, umbilical cord blood is frozen for later use.
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