Childhood Lymphoma: Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplants

Sometimes lymphoma does not respond to treatment with standard doses of radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Very high doses of chemotherapy may then be used to treat the cancer. Because the high doses of chemotherapy can destroy the bone marrow (required for a health immune and blood system), marrow is taken from the bones before treatment. The marrow is then frozen, and the patient is given high-dose chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy to treat the cancer.

The marrow taken out is then thawed and given back through a needle in a vein to replace the marrow that was destroyed. This type of transplant (from one’s own marrow) is called an autologous transplant. If the marrow is taken from another person, the transplant is called an allogeneic transplant. If the child is fortunate enough to have an identical twin, marrow can be collected from the sibling - this is called a syngeneic transplant.

Another type of autologous transplant is called a peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT). The patient's blood is passed through a machine that removes the stem cells (immature cells from which all blood cells develop), then returns your blood to you. This procedure is called apheresis and usually takes 3 or 4 hours over one or more days to complete. The stem cells may be treated with drugs to kill any cancer cells and then frozen until they are transplanted to you. This procedure may be done alone or with an autologous bone marrow transplant. Studies have shown that PBSCT results in shorter hospital stays, be safer, and more cost effective than BMTs.

The use of transplants in the treatment of childhood lymphoma is still limited to patients unresponsive to conventional treatment and in some clinical trials. For applicability to a specific child's condition see the appropriate NCI data sheets listed under the Childhood Lymphoma Information Page.

Clinical Trials

The National Cancer Institute Clinical Trial site Their phone number is 1-800-4-CANCER

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