Posted on February 6th, 2009 by
The Basic Strategy
Higher doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy kill more cancer cells than lower doses in certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, the higher doses of therapy used to destroy cancer cells also damage normal cells. The body’s normal cells that are most sensitive to destruction by high-dose therapy are the blood-producing stem cells in the bone marrow. To “rescue” the bone marrow and hasten blood cell production and immune system recovery, high-dose therapy is followed by an infusion of stem cells.
Stem cell transplants are classified based on which individual donates the stem cells and from where the stem cells are collected. Stem cells may come from the patient (autologous), an identical twin (syngeneic), or someone other than the patient or a twin (allogeneic). Allogeneic stem cells are further classified by whether the individual donating the stem cells is related or unrelated to the patient.
Stem cells can be collected from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood. There are important advantages and disadvantages to using stem cells collected from these different sources.
In summary, high-dose chemotherapy is the best treatment for certain types of leukemia. To deliver high-dose chemotherapy, stem cells must be collected before treatment and infused into the patient after treatment. The stem cell infusion supports the recovery of the patient’s bone marrow.
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