Susan and I are driving to Denver on Wednesday to meet Dr. Mark Brunvand, the transplant hematologist at Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. In the mean time I’ve been boning (sic) up on the transplant procedure.
This treatment can cure a significant percentage of patients who undergo it. Those who had a good response to initial therapy are the most likely to have a good outcome from a BMT. There are two types:
Allogeneic – where donor cells are used. This type has a high probability of curing the patient, but is also very dangerous. About 20-30% of patients die during this procedure, and many have severe side effects afterwards, which is why it’s only used about 25% of the time with lymphoma patients.
Autologous – where the victim patient donates his or her own cells. This type is very safe (2% death rate) but does not have as high a long-term survival rate as allogeneic transplants. Cells are collected before treatment; the person gets high-dose chemo and/or radiation to kill the bone marrow; then the cells are reinfused to repopulate the marrow.
I’m scheduled for an autologous transplant but I don’t know yet how the cells will be “harvested.”
Blood-forming stem cells used for a transplant are obtained either from the blood (for a peripheral blood stem cell transplant, or PBSCT) or from the bone marrow (for a bone marrow transplant, or BMT). Peripheral blood stem cells are obtained from a procedure similar to a blood donation, while bone marrow donation is usually done in an operating room under general anesthesia (while the donor is asleep). Bone marrow transplants were more common in the past, but they have largely been replaced by PBSCTs.
I’m sure my sisters are thankful I’m not a candidate for an allogeneic transplant as siblings are the most likely donors. This is what you’re missing, ladies.