Patients with certain forms of cancer like leukemia, breast cancer and lymphoma are sometimes treated by performing bone marrow transplant. The basic purpose of bone marrow transplant in women with breast cancer is to provide them high-dose chemotherapy that attacks cancer cells and proves damaging for the normal blood cells. And afterward substitutes the damaged cells with healthy ones.
The spongy tissues found inside bone are known as bone marrow. There are stem cells in the bone marrow found in breastbone, hips, skull, ribs and spine. These stem cells produce blood cells in the body. There are three kinds of blood cells and they are known as red blood cells that carry oxygen in the blood, white blood cells that fight against attacking viruses and bacteria in our body and platelets that help in clot-forming of the blood.
More often, the prescription of bone marrow transplantation is made on individual basis. The things which doctors consider are age, physical condition, diagnosis and stage of disease.
During a transplant, the given bone marrow comes from you or from a donor that has matching bone marrow with yours. The matching process is known as human leukocyte antigen testing (HLA testing). This is a series of blood tests that evaluate the compatibility of tissues between the receiver and the donor.
To confirm whether you are physically able to undergo a transplant procedure or not, many tests are performed before the bone marrow transplant procedure. With the help of these tests, transplant team can easily identify and treat problems before the procedure.
A simple surgical procedure is used before the bone marrow transplant and a central venous catheter is inserted in your chest via vein in this surgical process. This central venous catheter is a hollow ‘slender and flexible tube that makes it easy to deliver fluids, solutions, antibiotics, nutrition, chemotherapy and blood products directly into your bloodstream. The catheter is also used to collect blood samples.
To help your white blood cells recovering from the chemotherapy some hormone-like drugs known as “Colony-stimulating factors” are given before bone marrow transplant.
A needle is inserted into a bone in the hip to withdraw bone marrow. This procedure is done in the surgical room and the patient is given anesthesia during before operation. If the patient’s own bone marrow cannot be used for transplantation or the matching donor is not found, stem cells can also be harvested from patient’s circulating blood.
To destroy the abnormal stem cells and blood cells, normally, very high doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy are given to the patient. The patient’s normal bone marrow is wiped out by this high-dose therapy. Because of high-dose therapy the patient’s blood counts fall to low levels rapidly.
The day patient receive bone marrow transplant, the harvested bone marrow is filled into a vein with an intravenous tube. The bone marrow feels like a dark thick blood. The received bone marrow migrates to the large bone cavities and after many weeks it begins to produce normal blood cells.
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