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Overview


What is Bone Marrow ?

Bone marrow is a spongy tissue found inside bones. The bone marrow in the breast bone, skull, hips, ribs and spine contains stem cells that produce the body's blood cells. This is where the blood cells (RBC's, platelets and WBC's) are produced where they develop. These blood cells include white blood cells (leukocytes), which fight infection; red blood cells (erythrocytes), which carry oxygen, to and remove waste products from organs and tissues; and platelets, which enable the blood to clot. Each of these carries a life maintaining function. The bone marrow is a vital part of the human body.

Every type of blood cell in the bone marrow begins as a stem cell. Stem cells are immature cells that are able to produce other blood cells that mature and function as needed.

Stem cells are the most important cells needed in a bone marrow transplant. Stem cells, when transplanted, find their way to the recipient's marrow and begin to differentiate and produce all types of blood cells that are needed by the body.

You may have a bone marrow transplant if : -
  • Cancer is in remission(the symptoms go away and the disease is under control but not necessarily cured)
  • Cancer relapses(returns)after initial treatment
  • Cancer has not responded to other treatment


Types of Bone Marrow Transplant

Allogeneic : - The stem cells are collected from the blood or bone marrow of a related (brother or sister) or unrelated donor.

Autologous : - The stem cells are collected from the blood or bone marrow of the patient prior to high-dose therapy and are stored until time of transplant.

Syngeneic : - The stem cells are collected from the blood or bone marrow of an identical twin.

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Risks of Bone Marrow Transplantation

There are many very serious risks and side effects to a bone marrow transplant.

These include : -
  • Serious bleeding
  • Infection
  • Liver problems
  • Skin rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Infertility or sterility
  • Cataracts
  • Muscle spasms
  • Leg cramps
  • Numbness in your arms and legs
  • Secondary cancers - the transplant procedure increases the risk of developing another cancer


Another possible problem is that cells from a donor might not match your cells well enough and the new cells can begin attacking your cells. This is called graft versus host disease. This can be a serious problem, but it also can help to cure the cancer because the new cells also will attack any cancer cells that are left.





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