Walking the cancer ward at a hospital, you may see signs for Stem Cell Transplant services and wonder what that is all about. The National Cancer Institute puts it this way, “Stem cell transplants are procedures that restore blood-forming stem cells in people who have had theirs destroyed by the very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy that are used to treat certain cancers.”
Blood-forming stem cells play a vital role in your body because they develop into the body’s three main types of blood cells you need to be healthy, namely: white blood cells (part of your immune system that help fight infection), red blood cells (carry oxygen through your body) and platelets (essential for blood clotting).
Most cancer patients and families are focused on getting the cancer eliminated from the body, but once the cancer is gone, you have to start thinking about how to repair the body from the life-saving treatment.
Watching a loved one battle cancer is indescribable. Stem cell therapy brings hope to families and the cancer stricken that there can be a return to normalcy following a cancer battle.
Stem cell therapy is given to cancer patients every single day. There are three main categories of stem cell transplants: autologous (stem cells come from you); allogenic (stem cells come from a donor); and syngeneic (stem cells come from an identical twin).
Stem cell transplants are given by inserting blood-forming stem cells (from bone marrow, bloodstream or umbilical cord) through a needle into a vein. The stem cells are given through an IV catheter, much like receiving a blood transfusion. It takes 1 to 5 hours to receive all the stem cells.
Upon entering your bloodstream, these stem cells migrate to the bone marrow and take up residence where for former cells were before chemo/radiation treatment.
The blood-forming stem cells that are transplanted into the patient must match the patient’s cells in certain ways. Before receiving a transplant, a matching process occurs.
“People have different sets of proteins, called human leukocyte-associated (HLA) antigens, on the surface of their cells. The set of proteins, called the HLA type, is identified by a special blood test, the National Cancer Institute writes.
“In most cases, the success of allogeneic transplantation depends in part on how well the HLA antigens of the donor’s stem cells match those of the recipient’s stem cells. The higher the number of matching HLA antigens, the greater the chance that the patient’s body will accept the donor’s stem cells.”
Following your stem cell transplant, patients enter what is called the recovery phase as you wait for the transplanted blood cells to begin manufacturing new blood cells. It is important to note that although your blood counts will return to normal, more time is needed for your immune system to fully recover. The National Cancer Institute estimates that it can take several months for autologous transplants and 1 to 2 years for allogeneic or syngeneic transplants.
Stem cell therapy and research brings promising advances for helping patients heal tissues damaged from the effects of cancer.
Find out if you are a candidate for this revolutionary treatment by scheduling a free consultation with a stem cell therapist near you! If you have questions, or would like to know more about regenerative stem cell therapy, please call us at (877) 808-0016 or click contact us.