Bone marrow transplant Cancer treatment

Updated at: Jan 10, 2014
Bone marrow transplant Cancer treatment

Bone marrow transplant cancer treatment is a complex methodology, in which the infected bone marrow of the person is replaced with healthy bone marrow.

Pratima Sharma
CancerWritten by: Pratima SharmaPublished at: Oct 19, 2011

Bone marrow transplant cancer treatment is a complex methodology, in which the infected bone marrow of the person is replaced with healthy bone marrow. The recipient of the treatment gets fresh, healthy cells which can fight infection and help the person to stay healthy. Post treatment, the patient is administered with an improved immune system by the doctors to help him succeed in fighting cancer. Bone marrow transplant can be done for cancer lymphoma, multiple myeloma, neuroblastoma and leukemia.

In a recent study published in the Lancet Oncology(January Edition, 2010), it was revealed that out of 329 patients who got bone marrow transplant in the years between 1995 and 1999, 56.5 per cent of the recipients were alive. However, in some cases, bone marrow transplant cancer treatment has been found ineffective, e.g. in the case of breast cancer. Several other studies conducted on the subject concluded that there were no clear benefits of the above methodology on breast cancer patients.

There are three types of bone marrow transplants used for cancer treatment:

  • Autologous: Autologous method is used when the bone marrow of the patient itself is used to provide the therapy. The bone marrow of the patient is extracted before the start of the therapy.
  • Allogeneic: In this method, the bone marrow is taken from another person. To see if the donor’s cell matches the recipient’s – the doctor performs a test called human leukocyte antigen. In case of matched donors, the bone marrow and blood type is identical.
  • Syngeneic: In this type of method, the bone marrow of identical twin is used to provide the solution. It is a rare condition.
  • Sometimes the blood is taken from the umbilical cord and placenta as people donate stem cells after childbirth. Only a small amount of blood is taken in this process so it does not harm the mother or the baby.

Stem cell transplants or bone marrow transplants are considered lifesaving, but they are not the ultimate solution. Dr. Vipul Sud, Core Cancer Foundation, clarifies: “Bone marrow transplants may not be effective in everyone’s case and it has also been observed that young people have a better response to the treatment  than the old. Since age has been crucial, we have restricted bone marrow transplant cancer treatment to people under the age of 55 years”. Besides; doctors also consider other factors while proffering the treatment, such as the physical conditions, stage of disease.

Before prescribing treatment, doctors conduct chemotherapy or radiation therapy on the patient in order to destroy the harmful cells of the body. During this treatment, patients may need blood transfusion and drugs to stay healthy. After getting the bone marrow transplant cancer treatment, patients may take several months to recover from the condition and a few more years to get back their immune system.




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