Advances in the treatment of cancer and improvements in supportive care over the past 10 years have improved the results and tolerability of blood and marrow transplants (BMT). However, BMT remains a dangerous and difficult procedure. For allogeneic transplantation, the patient receives bone marrow or blood stem cells from a tissue-matched (HLA-matched) donor who may or may not be a relative. Identical twin allogeneic transplants are called syngeneic transplants.
You will be admitted to the hospital on the day your high-dose preparative therapy begins. Your admission date may be changed based on your health status or bed availability. The length of your admission will be about four to six weeks.
Chemotherapy begins soon after you are admitted to the hospital. Your doctor will discuss all the drugs you will receive and their side effects. Your nurse practitioner, inpatient nurse and pharmacist also will be available to answer questions. In addition, you may receive written information on these drugs in a consent form.
Precautions are taken to minimize side effects from these drugs. For example, when receiving some types of chemotherapy, patients must shower thoroughly twice a day to remove the drug that is excreted through the skin — this is done to help prevent or minimize chemotherapy burns. The inpatient nurse will go over any other special precautions that you may need to take.
Some patients receive total body irradiation (TBI) in addition to chemotherapy. This radiation therapy is intended to destroy remaining cancer cells and further suppress the immune system.
The body feels the effects of the chemotherapy or radiation about a week after a BMT. When the blood counts are low, you feel like you have the flu and may not want to do much. This will last for about two weeks and will decrease as your blood counts improve. You may notice a number of other symptoms as well, including:
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.