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Stem Cell Transplantation

Your doctor may recommend an allogeneic stem cell transplantation or an autologous stem cell transplantation to treat your acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Stem cell transplantation isn't an option for everyone, especially because of the high, sometimes life-threatening risks associated with it.

Allogeneic stem cell transplantation involves transferring stem cells from a healthy person (the donor) to the patient. The procedure follows high-intensity chemotherapy, potent drugs that must be toxic enough to kill leukemic cells.

Autologous stem cell transplantation involves "harvesting," or retrieving, noncancerous stem cells from your body and freezing them. Your cells are returned to your body after you receive intensive drug therapy. The procedure is appropriate only for certain patients.

The decision to do a stem cell transplant depends on whether your AML is favorable risk, intermediate risk or high risk. Your doctor also considers:

  • your overall health
  • the chances that chemotherapy alone will cure your AML
  • the type of abnormal changes to your chromosomes and cells
  • the availability of a matched donor, if necessary
  • your understanding of the transplant's benefits and risks

Favorable-risk AML: A stem cell transplantation generally isn't recommended with a first complete remission.

Intermediate-risk AML: Your doctor may recommend an allogeneic stem cell transplantation or a reduced-intensity allogeneic transplantation.

High-risk AML: Doctors generally recommend allogeneic stem cell transplantation with first remission if you have a matched related or unrelated donor. If you're older or you have any comorbidities or conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease or diabetes, your doctor may recommend a reduced-intensity allogeneic transplantation.

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last updated on Thursday, March 10, 2011
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