Health Care

Can Leukaemia be cured with bone marrow transplant?

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Bone marrow is the tissue inside the bones that creates blood cells. All of our blood cells come from stem cells which are immature cells in the bone marrow. Leukemia is the cancer of the bone marrow or blood. There is an abnormal production of blood cells in a person who suffers from this disease. A bone marrow transplant for Leukemia involves replacement of the destroyed or damaged bone marrow by healthy ones from other stem cells.

Finding the right oncologist and hospital plays an important role in treating Leukemia. It is crucial for the patient to make an informed decision. In this internet age, searching for right treatment options has certainly become less tedious and the patient can find and book surgery packages online. Once finalized, the oncologist will help the patient in choosing the right treatment course.
Bone marrow transplant has been the most successful surgery in treating Leukemia. There are procedures which are carried out before the transplant, such as radiation and/or chemotherapy. There are two ways of carrying out these procedures. First is a mini transplant wherein low doses of radiation are given to the patient before the actual transplant. The second method is ablative treatment wherein high doses of chemotherapy or radiation is given to the patient to kill all the cancer cells.
There are three types of bone marrowtransplant for Leukemia – Allogeneic, Umbilical Cord and Autologous bone marrow transplant. In allogenic transplant, stem cells are received by a donor. In most of the cases, the genes of donor should match partly. Donor match tests should be done before the transplant to ensure this. Umbilical Cord transplant is another type of allogenic transplant wherein the stem cells are removed from the umbilical cord of a new born baby just after it is born. In Autologous transplant, the stem cells are removed from the patient’s body before high doses of radiation treatments. This type of transplant is also known as rescue transplant.
There are two ways of collecting donor stem cells namely Leukapheresis and bone marrow harvest. In Leukapheresis, the donor receives shots for many days so as to get the stem cells to move into the blood from the bone marrow. In this method, the blood is removed from the IV line of the donor. The white blood cells are separated in a machine and the red blood cells are returned to the donor. In bone marrow harvest, a small surgery is carried out. There is usually no pain experienced during the procedure. In most of the cases, the donor need not stay in the hospital overnight.
The stem cell transplant is usually done post radiation. The transfer of stem cells to the patient’s body is done through a tube named a central venous catheter. It is quite a lot like blood transfusion. The patient is usually kept in a bone marrow transplant unit in the center or hospital so as to avoid any infection. The blood count and vital signs are closely monitored. The duration of patient’s stay in the hospital depends on the kind of transplant that takes place, the medical center’s processes and how much radiation treatment the patient receives.
The aftercare post discharge from the hospital is crucial for the patient’s recovery. The patient needs to be very careful of not falling prey to any infections. Bone marrow transplant is a big revolution and boon to patients who have been battling Leukemia since a long time. 

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