Your doctor will talk with you about whether stem cell transplantation is a treatment option for you.
Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation
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. Unfortunately, the drugs also take aim at normal stem cells in the bone marrow.
The goals of an allogeneic transplant are to:
- Restore the body’s ability to make normal blood cells after high-dose chemotherapy
- Cure the patient of his or her ALL by killing any remaining ALL cells.
An allogeneic transplant is a high-risk procedure. Doctors are working to make allogeneic transplants safer. An allogeneic transplant may be a choice for an adult ALL patient if
- He or she is not doing well with other treatments
- The expected benefits of an allogeneic transplant exceed the risks
- There is a stem cell donor.
The upper age limit for an allogeneic transplant depends on the treatment center.
A stem cell transplant is usually not considered for a child unless
- Doctors have determined that the child’s type of ALL is not likely to respond well to chemotherapy
- Chemotherapy has not worked well
- The ALL has returned (relapsed).
Reduced-Intensity Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation
A reduced-intensity allogeneic transplant uses lower doses of chemotherapy than a standard allogeneic transplant; it does not completely inactivate the patient’s immune system or treat the ALL as aggressively. Some older and sicker patients may be helped by this treatment.
A serious risk of allogeneic and reduced-intensity allogenic stem cell transplantation is graft versus host disease (GVHD), which develops if the donor's immune cells attack your normal tissue. GVHD's effects can range from minor to life threatening.
Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation
An autologous transplant uses the patient’s own stem cells. Your doctor will talk with you about whether an autologous transplant is a treatment option for you. It is not commonly used to treat ALL. This is because of the high relapse rate following this type of transplant.
- Stem Cell Transplantation
- Managing Side Effects
- Integrative Medicine and Complementary and Alternative Therapies
- Food and Nutrition
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's free booklet Blood and Marrow Stem Cell Transplantation