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Blood and Marrow Transplant

A bone marrow transplant (BMT), also called a stem cell transplant, is a procedure in which diseased or damaged bone marrow cells are replaced with healthy ones. This procedure is performed after a patient has high-dose chemotherapy or radiation treatment for conditions that don't respond to standard doses.

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside bones that produces blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Cells in the bone marrow that normally develop into the blood cells are called stem cells. When bone marrow is damaged, it no longer produces these cells. As a result, weakness, anemia, infections, excessive bleeding and even death can occur.

When high doses of chemotherapy and radiation are used to kill cancer cells, bone marrow cells also may be destroyed. Bone marrow and stem cell transplants enable doctors to treat cancer with aggressive chemotherapy and radiation because they can replace the bone marrow cells destroyed in the treatment.

Conditions successfully treated with BMT include cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and solid tumors, as well as aplastic anemia.

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There are two types of bone marrow transplants:

  • Allogeneic Transplant — The patient receives bone marrow or blood stem cells from a donor who may or may not be a relative.
  • Autologous Transplant — The patient receives his or her own stem cells that were collected and frozen before the high-dose chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

UCSF Medical Center is a leader in blood and bone marrow transplants for a number of blood disorders. Our expert transplant team is comprised of health professionals who care for individuals and their families throughout the transplant process.

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