Stem Cell Transplantation
The main purpose of stem cell transplantation in cancer treatment is to make it possible for patients to receive very high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation. High dose chemotherapy and radiation can severely damage or destroy your bone marrow while killing cancer cells. Without healthy bone marrow, your body is no longer able to make the blood cells needed to prevent infection, bleeding, and carry oxygen. Stem cell transplants replace the stem cells destroyed by high dose cancer treatment allowing your bone marrow to produce healthy cells.
There are 3 types of stem cell transplants:
Autologous Stem Cell Transplants
In autologous stem cell transplants, you are your own donor. Your bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells are taken from you (harvested), frozen until needed, then given back to you (transplanted) after you have received high doses of chemotherapy, radiation or both to destroy your cancer cells.
Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplants
The allogeneic stem cell transplant is when your bone marrow and immune system are replaced with new, healthy bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells from another person. Traditionally, most allogeneic stem cell transplants have been performed using stem cells from the bone marrow, but the use of peripheral blood stem cells is increasing.
Syngeneic Stem Cell Transplants
In a syngeneic stem cell transplant, you receive stem cells from your identical twin. Since identical twins represent a small number of births, syngeneic transplantation is rare. Because identical twins have the same genes, they also have the same set of HLA (human leukocyte associated) antigens. As a result, there is less chance of the transplant being rejected.