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Stem cell and bone marrow transplantation

What is stem cell/bone marrow transplant?

Stem cell and/or bone marrow transplant (terms are often interchangeable) is a medical procedure that is used to treat people with certain types of cancer.

Stem cells are very young blood cells that are formed in the bone marrow. Stem cells are important because all the different kinds of blood cells found in the body are produced from them.couple

Chemotherapy and radiation therapies are cancer treatments that may be given in high doses to increase their effectiveness against certain types of cancer. High-dose therapy can damage or destroy the person's bone marrow so they can no longer make new blood cells. This problem can be overcome by collecting a person's own (autologous) stem cells before the high-dose therapy, then storing them, so they can be given back to the person after therapy. The stem cells that were damaged by the treatment will be replaced by these healthy stem cells. The purpose for stem cell/bone marrow transplant is to make it possible for patients to receive high doses of chemotherapy (with or without radiation therapy) for their cancer.

Are you eligible?

While every patient is considered on a case by case basis, the disease criteria for eligibility for a stem cell/bone marrow transplant include:

  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Germ cell tumors

Patients with any of the above listed diseases or conditions must also be between 18-70 years of age, have no significant heart, lung, kidney, or liver diseases, and be able to understand risks and benefits of the procedure.

Consideration as a transplant candidate

If a person is accepted as a candidate for stem cell/bone marrow transplant, a thorough medical screening process will begin that includes: multiple lab tests, x-rays, immunological work-up, psychosocial evaluation, financial counseling, dietary evaluation and necessary medical consultation. Patients will also be participating in one-on-one and group patient teaching and support groups. Upon completion of the medical evaluation, the patient's case is reviewed by the transplant team. Then, if appropriate, stem cell mobilization will be started followed by high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell/bone marrow transplant.

What can I expect after transplant?

Generally, people who receive an autologous stem cell/bone marrow transplant are in the hospital for two to three weeks. After transplant, you will be followed very closely by the stem cell/bone marrow transplant team for one to two months. This involves frequent medical check-ups, living in housing close to the medical center, and having a trusted family member or friend who can stay with you all the time. Most people who have this procedure take about six months off of work. It is important to guard against infection for one year following your transplant.

A better life

Because of advances in post-transplant supportive care and follow up, transplantation is now a successful treatment choice for people of different ages and with different types of diseases.

yachtAt Loma Linda, the philosophy is to treat the "whole patient." Therefore, the transplant team provides a multidisciplinary approach comprised of physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, dietitians, and other health-care professionals.

Who will pay for my transplant?

Most insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medi-Cal, will pay for the stem cell/bone marrow transplant. The financial coordinator at the Transplantation Institute will help you determine what financial coverage is available for your stem cell/bone marrow transplant and will help you check your benefits with your insurance company. Fund raising may be necessary to pay for a portion of your transplant and maintenance medications.

For more information

Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Transplantation contact/referral information

"Patient rights are of the utmost importance. We give full consideration to patient privacy and confidentiality and provide medical care with informed patient participation. In recognition of personal dignity, patient care is rendered in a respectful, considerate, and ethical manner at all times."