Haematology

Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT)

Description

Autologous bone marrow transplant (BMT) is used to treat diseases like lymphoma, leukemia  mylomas and sometimes even single soild tumours such as osteosarcoma.  It is also known as rescue transplant as it helps  cure better control of disease over a long period of time.

Autologus transplant involves high dose chemotherapy to kill or destroy cancer cells and the bone marrow is treated and has only healthy stem cells, it is inserted back into the patient’s body through intravenous vein for normal body cells to mutliply. The procedure is done after the high dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or both are performed on the patient to cure any kind of leukemia, myeloma or lymphoma.

Autologous BMT helps the bone marrow to get back its functionality of creating healthy cells, which may have been affected due to cancerous growth.

During the procedure

The doctor will examine your overall health and determine if an autologous bone marrow transplant is a suitable option for you. This involves performing a physical examination, kidney tests, heart and liver tests, etc. and verify if you are suffering from any kind of cancer or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

During the treatment, the stem cells are collected from the patient’s bloodstream through peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT).  G-CSF is also used to expand the stem cells from the marrow to spill out from the blood. The blood is them is removed from a vein and passed through a machine called cell operator that separates the stem cells. Once the stem cells are separated, they are frozen for future use when the actual transplant is carried out  and the blood is returned back to your body.

During this period, the patient will receive regular chemotherapy and radiation therapy to reduce the growth of cancer cells known as conditioning therapy. Once it is finished, the frozen stem cells, which are now safe and free from abnormalities will be inserted back into the patients  blood stream in a process similar to a blood transfusion so that hea

Autologous bone marrow transplant has minor side effects, which can be dealt easily with little care. Below are given some possible complications of autologous BMT procedure:

  • Infection
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Infertility
  • Bleeding
  • Decrease in blood count level
  • Depression
  • Recurrence or new cancer

 

During conditioning therapy, the blood counts dip which is quite normal.  Do not alarm yourself and get worried about it.  Both during conditioning therapy and post the transplant,  immunity is low and the patient may need to take antibiotics and other drugs to avoid infections and bleeding as during this time.

Once the blood counts rise, the patient is discharged from the hospital though it often takes from 3 to 6 months to recover fully.

After the transplant, you will require to visit regular appointments with your doctor, who will examine your body to search for abnormalities or new cancer.

Recovery will take some time as it will take a few months for your immune system to get its strength back.

Avoiding contact with  people who are ill people and takeing good care of  the patient is imperative.