After your evaluation and tests are complete, you and your doctors may decide a bone marrow or stem cell transplant is right for you. If so, you will move on to treatment.
Two types of transplants
It’s important to know that there are two types of transplants—Autologous and Allogeneic. Your doctor will recommend the best type of transplant for you, depending on your disease and treatment goals:
- An autologous transplant is when you donate and receive back your own cells.
- An allogeneic transplant is when you receive stem cells from another person (this person is called a donor). A donor may be your brother, sister, or someone unrelated to you. Your donor needs to have similar tissue typing to you.
How does transplantation work?
- Cell collection: First, we gather stem cells. If you are having an autologous transplant, we will collect your own cells. If you are undergoing an allogeneic transplant, we will collect cells from a donor.
- Chemotherapy: Before the transplant, you will be given chemotherapy (an infusion of cancer-fighting drugs) and possibly radiation to destroy the diseased cells and marrow. Whether this is your first time receiving chemotherapy or whether you've had it before, we will talk with you about your treatment, the drugs involved and how they work, any concerns you might have, and what you can do to feel your best during treatment.
- Transplant: The cells we collected earlier are put into your body through an intravenous line or tube commonly called an IV—this is not surgery. The healthy cells then find their way into the marrow, where they grow and make healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. For some patients, this procedure can offer a chance for a cure or extended remission of blood cancers.
- After Transplant: After the transplant is complete, we will regularly evaluate your response to the treatment and monitor your health status. Generally, evaluations are done at the following times after the transplant:
- 100 days
- 6 months
- 1 year
- 18 months
- Yearly after the first 18 months
What to expect during treatment – what you can expect during the treatment process, what you should bring, what you shouldn’t bring, and how long treatment will last
What to expect after treatment – what you can expect during your recovery from treatment, going home after your treatment and follow up care that is part of your treatment process.
Learn more about having a transplant at Norris Cotton Cancer Center (PDF)