Bone marrow is found in the spaces in the center of your long bones in your body. Blood cells are made in the bone marrow: white blood cells (WBC) fight infection; red blood cells (RBC) carry oxygen; and platelets (PLT) help form clots to prevent bleeding. Stem cells are blood cells that have not yet become a specific kind of blood cell. All cells begin as stem cells. By transplanting stem cells we can regenerate your blood cell forming ability. Stem cells tend to remain in the bone marrow, where they can become any type of blood cell the body needs, but some go into general circulation in the blood vessels.
Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplant
A bone marrow transplant can also be referred to as a stem cell transplant and is a method of treating patients with specific types of cancers or bone marrow diseases. Examples of cancers and diseases that are treated with a stem cell transplant include leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, amyloidosis and various inherited blood diseases like sickle cell anemia.
The decision to transplant and the type of transplant that a patient receives depend on a number of factors. These factors include the type and stage of cancer or disease, the availability of a suitable donor, and the potential risks and benefits for the patient.
There are two basic types of stem cell transplants. The types of transplants are named according to who donated the stem cells. If the person donating the stem cells is the patient, the transplant is called an autologous transplant or Auto for short (Auto means self). If the stem cells are donated by someone other than the patient, the transplant is called an allogeneic transplant or Allo for short (Allo means other). The person donating stem cells for an allo transplant can be a relative of the patient or someone not related to the patient. Before either type of transplant, a patient will receive high-dose chemotherapy, or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. This prepares the body for the transplant by eliminating any abnormal or cancer cells in the patient’s blood stream and by destroying blood-forming cells in the marrow, to make room for new cells.