Success in treating leukemia and lymphoma increases the more chemotherapy that is given. However, once the bone marrow has been exposed to very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation, its ability to make platelets, white cells and red cells is severely damaged. Stem cell or marrow transplantation helps to restore normal blood production.
There are two main types of stem cell transplants, autologous and allogeneic. Autologous transplants use previously stored stem cells from the patient’s own body. When the patient is in “remission” or showing no signs of disease, the cells are collected from the patient’s blood or marrow. The cells may then be treated with chemotherapy to kill any leukemia or lymphoma cells that might still be present. After the patient has completed their therapy, the cells will then be given back to them to help their body resume blood production.
Allogeneic transplants follow the same principles, but they use stem cells or marrow from a donor. The donor may be a brother or sister with the same tissue type as the patient, or a matched volunteer donor from the National Marrow Donor Program.
Treatment and Clinical Trials. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Accessed May 25, 2010. http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/all_page?item_id=4700