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Resistant, recurring, or advanced MDS can significantly reduce the number of healthy blood cells in the marrow. The loss of these cells will reduce the immune system's ability to fight infections or disease and lead to life-threatening infections.
A peripheral stem cell transplant uses healthy stem cells (immature, unformed cells) from the blood of a donor to restore normal blood cell function. The cells travel to bone marrow sites throughout the body and slowly repopulate numbers of red or white blood cells, or platelets. If the transplant is successful, the newly injected cells should be free of cancer and capable of producing healthy cells.
Allogeneic transplants are from a donor. In order for bone marrow transplant to be successful, certain markers (called HLA types) on the donor's and recipient's blood cells and bone marrow cells must match. The recipient's bone marrow is harvested with a needle, which removes bone marrow tissue. The donated marrow is filtered and given to the recipient through a vein in the chest. Once the procedure is done, the recipient is isolated to reduce the chance of infection while the healthy stem cells repopulate the blood cell count. It can take up to a month for bone marrow to be fully functional.
Autologous, or stem cells from your own body, are generally not used to treat MDS. This is because the reserve of healthy stem cells is contaminated by damaged cells.
A stem cell transplant is not for everyone. Success rates vary depending on age, gender, and aggressiveness of the disease. Side effects include rejection of the new cells and disease relapse. With rejection, the white blood cells in the body identify the new cells as foreign and attack them.
A catheter is a soft, thin, flexible tube that is placed in a large vein in the body, usually under the collarbone or in the chest. Catheters eliminate the need for multiple needlesticks. The site can be used to draw blood, or administer medications or blood products.
Myelodysplastic syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114054/Myelodysplastic-syndrome-MDS. Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed June 21, 2016.
Myelodysplastic syndromes. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003122-pdf.pdf. Accessed June 30, 2016.
Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloproliferative/patient/myelodysplastic-treatment-pdq#section/_49. Updated August 12, 2015. Accessed June 30, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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