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What are some facts on bone marrow transplants?

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Quick Answer

Bone marrow transplant is one of the most successful treatments for cancer and has up to an 85 percent success rate for blood cancer, according to the Seattle Care Center Alliance. Many people have access to this treatment, thanks to cord blood transplants and reduced-intensity transplants.

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Full Answer

Bone marrow transplants are performed to help patients with different types of cancers, including multiple myeloma, leukemia and lymphoma, according to MedlinePlus.

In some cases, radiation or chemotherapy is needed before the bone marrow transplant, notes MedlinePlus. This is either performed with reduced-intensity treatment or ablative treatment. The traditional form of bone marrow transplant uses high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation to kill the cancer cells. This also kills any remaining bone marrow in the patient with cancer. The newer form, as of 2015, is reduced-intensity treatment, often referred to as a mini transplant. This uses lower doses of radiation and chemotherapy.

The person donating her bone marrow for the transplant undergoes either a bone marrow harvest or leukapheresis, says MedlinePlus. The bone marrow harvest is performed under general anesthesia, so the person donating does not feel pain during the procedure. The bone marrow is removed from the back of the hip bones. Leukapheresis removes bone marrow from the blood after the donor receives shots for five days.

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