Cancer

Bone Marrow Transplant Treatment

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue in the hollow centres of a person's long bones. It is the blood cell 'factory'. Healthy bone marrow releases blood cells into the bloodstream when they are mature and when required.

What is Bone marrow?

Bone marrow is a spongy tissue in the hollow centres of a person's long bones. These immature cells further gets mature into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. 
Red blood cell's role is to carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Platelets helps in control bleeding by forming clots.  
Stem cells constantly gets divided and produce new cells. Stem cells rapidly get multiplied to make millions of blood cells each day. Blood cells have a limited life span 
(around 100-120 days for red blood cells) and gets constantly being replaced. The production of healthy stem cells is important. Healthy bone marrow release blood cells into 
the bloodstream when they are mature and whenever required. Without the help of bone marrow, our bodies could not produce the white cells we need to fight infection, the red blood 
cells we need to carry oxygen, and the platelets we need to stop bleeding. Some illnesses as well as treatments can destroy the bone marrow. This leaves the person unable to make 
the new blood cells which are needed to fight infection and recover. In some cases, the best treatment is a transplant of bone marrow donated by other person.

Why is a bone marrow transplant needed?

They are performed when a person's marrow gets destroyed by a disease or isn't healthy enough to function properly.
A bone marrow transplant can be used to:
• Replace diseased, non-functioning bone marrow with healthy and functioning bone marrow for conditions such as leukemia, aplastic anemia, and siPage Imageckle cell anemia.
• Regenerate a new immune system that will fight existing or residual leukemia or other cancers not killed by the chemotherapy or radiation that are used in the transplant. 
• Replace the bone marrow and restore its normal function after high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation are given for treating a malignancy.
• Replace bone marrow with genetically healthy and functioning bone marrow to prevent further damage from a genetic disease process.

What does the operation involve?

In a transplant operation, the person receiving the marrow is treated with a high dose of chemotherapy or radiotherapy to destroy their diseased cells. The donor's bone 
marrow cells are then injected into a vein, just like blood transfusion. The donor marrow finds the bones and settles into the existing cavities. Donating bone marrow can save other 
person's life. Bone marrow donors are matched with the people who need a transplant to survive. The donor must have same tissue type as the recipient. Doctors can check a person's 
tissue type with a simple blood test.

What complications can happen?

There are a number of diseases that affect the bone marrow including, Leukaemia - a cancer of the blood that starts in the bone marrow. We don't know its exact cause. Symptoms 
include anaemia, bruising as well as nose bleeds. Treatment includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and sometimes a bone marrow transplant from a healthy compatible person. 
Reticulum cell sarcoma of bone - a cancerous tumour of bone marrow, occurring more often in males than in females. Symptoms include pain and swelling. Can be treated by 
radiotherapy. Aplastic anaemia-a person stops making blood. This happens mostly in people between 15 and 30 age. The person may have the condition at birth, or certain drugs, 
chemicals and radiation may be the cause, often the cause is unknown. Symptoms include weakness, fever and skin haemorrhages. Blood transfusions may help for a time, but a 
severely affected person may die, unless they receive a transplant of healthy bone marrow. Defective immune system - some children are born with a defective immune system and are 
unable to fight the disease. Blood transfusions can help, but in most serious cases, the person will only respond to a bone marrow transplant. During the initial weeks and months 
after leaving the hospital, the patient will have to make frequent trips to an outpatient clinic. This will allow the doctors to track down the patient's progress. These visits will 
become less frequent over time.

Myths & Facts about Bone Marrow Transplant

MYTH: All the bone marrow donations involve surgery.
FACT: Major part of bone marrow donations do not involve surgery. Today, the patient's doctor most often requests a peripheral blood stem cell donation, which is a non-surgical 
procedure.
 
MYTH: Donating bone marrow is painful and involve a long recover.
FACT: Donating bone marrow can have uncomfortable but short-lived side effects. This is because of taking a drug known as filgrastim. Donors may have headaches, joint or muscle 
aches and/or fatigue. Usually the donors are back to their normal routine in one to two days.
 
MYTH: In marrow donation, pieces of bone are detached from the donor.
FACT: No pieces of bone are detached during marrow donation. Bone marrow is a fluid within the cavities of bones and contains stem cells which are the source of all blood cells. 
Only this liquid marrow inside the bone is needed to save the patient's life.
 
MYTH: Most patients receive their marrow from a family member.
FACT: 70 percent of the patients will receive their marrow from a stranger.
 
MYTH: I can't donate my marrow because I can't donate my blood.
FACT: Requirements for donating blood are very different from donating bone marrow. There is no underweight requirement for bone marrow donations but there is a 
maximum weight requirement. People who are anemic or deficiency of iron can donate and even those with diabetics whose condition is not controlled by insulin can also donate. 
However, if they experience chronic back or hip or spine problems that requires medical attention, or if they have had a disc problem, then they may not be allowed to donate.

Follow-Up

Blood cells are made inside of bone marrow. Diseases of bone marrow affect the production of the blood cells. Some illnesses and treatments require bone marrow transplants. A bone 
marrow transplant involves matching tissue types of the donor and the recipient. It is very hard to find the exact tissue matches outside families. 
India provides cost effective treatments to its patients. The cost of bone marrow transplant in India, therefore is also much lesser than what it is in other countries abroad. Check 
out the links below to know the cost of bone marrow transplant in India thoroughly:  The register is completely confidential.

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