Stem Cell Transplant

What is a Stem Cell Transplant?

A stem cell transplant (SCT), also called a bone marrow transplant (BMT) or a peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT), is a procedure in which diseased or damaged bone marrow cells are replaced with healthy ones. This procedure is performed after a patient has high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment for conditions that don't respond to standard doses.

When high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation are used to kill cancer cells, bone marrow cells are also be destroyed. Stem cell and bone marrow transplants allow doctors to treat cancer with aggressive chemotherapy and/or radiation since they can replace the stem cells/bone marrow cells destroyed in the treatment.

Conditions successfully treated with SCT/BMT include blood cancers, such as leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myeloma and solid tumors such as testicular.

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside bones that produces blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Cells in the bone marrow that normally develop into the blood cells are called stem cells. When bone marrow is damaged, it no longer produces these cells. As a result, weakness, anemia, infections, excessive bleeding and even death can occur.

There are two types of transplants:

  • Autologous transplant—patient receives their own stem cells that were collected and frozen before the high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment.
  • Allogeneic transplant—patient receives stem cells or bone marrow from a donor. We do only matched related sibling allogeneic transplants. Other transplant centers such as Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, perform matched unrelated donor transplant, in the event a sibling donor can not be identified.