Do You Need a Stem Cell Transplant?
A stem cell transplant replaces unhealthy, damaged or destroyed stem cells in your bone marrow with those that are healthy. Depending on the disease being treated, you may be able to donate and use your own stem cells.
Our transplant specialists at Henry Ford work with you to determine the best treatment option.
Importance of bone marrow and stem cells
Bone marrow is the sponge-like tissue inside your bones that make a special type of stem cell called a hematopoietic stem cell. These cells are also found in the bloodstream and in umbilical cord blood.
Immature hematopoietic stem cells develop into the 3 types of blood cells:
- Red blood cells: These cells carry oxygen throughout your body. They also carry carbon dioxide to your lungs to be exhaled.
- White blood cells: These infection-fighting cells attack bacteria and viruses that cause illness.
- Platelets: These blood cell fragments bind together to form clots that seal small breaks on blood vessel walls.
Conditions possibly requiring a bone marrow stem cell transplant
Your doctor may recommend a stem cell transplant if the radiation or chemotherapy you need to treat cancer is potentially going to damage or destroy bone marrow. A stem cell transplant can also treat certain diseases that affect red and white blood cells.
Stem cell transplants are a potential treatment for:
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Hodgkin lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Acute myeloid leukemia
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
- Chronic myeloid leukemia
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Testicular cancer
- Myelodysplastic syndrome
- Severe aplastic anemia
Screening for stem cell transplants
You must complete several medical tests before you can receive a stem cell transplant. These tests include:
- Physical exam, including past medical history
- Blood tests for HIV, hepatitis and other illnesses
- Blood tests for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type
- Bone marrow biopsy
- Imaging tests, including computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET) and chest X-rays
- Lung function tests
- Heart tests, including echocardiogram (ECG) and electrocardiogram (EKG)
Additional stem cell transplant requirements
Before you can continue the stem cell transplant process, you must meet additional criteria:
- Undergo a mental health screening: An assessment by a mental health specialist detects potential issues that could affect your transplant recovery.
- Abstain from substance use: You must not consume alcohol or use tobacco or prohibited substances for at least 6 months prior to receiving a stem cell transplant. You should avoid these substances after your transplant as well. Henry Ford provides addiction treatment and tobacco treatment services for those who need it.
- Form a support system: You need a dependable group of caregivers who can provide care during your recovery.