Bone Marrow Transplantation

Bone marrow transplantation (BMT), also called stem cell transplant (SCT) has been studied very thoroughly. When an patient with AML completes chemotherapy most likely their stem cells are destroyed. Destroying stem cells can have a dramatic impact on a person's health. In addition, chemotherapy can destroy the body's ability to manufacture new blood cells. Bone Marrow transplantation is used to rebuild the body's ability to produce blood cells again and bring their numbers back up to normal levels.

Bone marrow transplantation involves extracting bone marrow containing normal stem cells from a healthy donor, and transferring it to a recipient whose body cannot manufacture proper quantities of normal blood cells. The goal of the transplant is to rebuild the recipient's blood cells and immune system.

Bone marrow transplantation is usually only considered when chemotherapy has been ineffective. If a bone marrow transplant is necessary, marrow from a compatible donor such as a sibling or from the patients own body. Unfortunately, about 5-10% of transplant recipients die from the transplant itself, due to the body's rejection of foreign cells (known as graft vs. host rejection) and other complications. A newer form of transplant, where the patient's own marrow is removed, "cleaned" of cancerous cells and then reinjected into the body avoids the graft-host problem, but its efficacy is disputed.