Stem cells are collected either by filtering them from the blood stream or by extracting bone marrow. Whenever possible, hematopoietic cells are harvested by filtering the patient’s own blood. After intensive chemotherapy that kills the blood-producing bone marrow as well as the cancer cells, the hematopoietic stem cells are transplanted into the patient. The infusion of stem cells allows the bone marrow to regrow and start producing cancer-free blood cells again.
While this gives a brief description of the basic bone marrow and blood stem cell transplantation process, there is a lot more to learn. It is important for patients to learn all they can about their disease. The National Cancer Institute (NCI), American Cancer Society (ACS), Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and National Marrow Donor Program are all excellent sources for information.
We recommend these links:
- Understanding Bone Marrow Transplantation (NCI)
- Understanding Blood Stem Cell Transplants (NCI)
- Overview of Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplants (ACS)
- Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
- National Marrow Donor Program
- Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR)
- Norris Cotton Cancer Center's Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program Frequently Asked Questions