Disease Information

Stem Cell / Bone Marrow Transplant: Autologous Stem Cell / Bone Marrow Transplant

Alternate Names: bone marrow transplant, BMT, stem cell transplant, SCT

What is an autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplant?

An autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplant replaces damaged or destroyed bone marrow stem cells with healthy ones donated in advance by the patient. The “auto” prefix means “self” or “oneself.” Stem cells from the patient’s own blood and/or bone marrow are collected and used in the transplant. (Learn about transplants using donor cells from other people: allogeneic stem cell / bone marrow transplant.)

Stem cells are produced in the spongy area of bones known as marrow. These cells develop into all types of blood cells in the body. In an autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplant, the transplanted stem cells grow and become normal blood cells that help fight disease.


What are autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplants used to treat?

These transplants are used to treat blood-related cancers and other disorders, including:


What happens before an autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplant?

Clinicians decide whether the patient can have the transplant:

Before the cells are transplanted, the patient receives treatment to destroy as many abnormal cells as possible and to increase the chance of transplant success. The patient may receive chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both. At the same time that these therapies kill cancer cells they can also destroy many healthy blood cells.


How are autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplants done?

After the chemo and / or radiation treatment is complete, the patient’s healthy stem cells are transplanted into the bloodstream:


What problems can occur with autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplants?

Patients receive their own stem cells, so there is no risk that the immune system will react to the transplanted cells as foreign and attack or reject them (graft-versus-host disease).

Problems that may occur include:


What are the survival rates for autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplants?

Survival in children following autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplantation depends on:

In a recent study, children with acute promyelocytic leukemia had an overall five-year survival rate of 82 percent following autologous stem cell transplant.

Patients with solid tumors that have relapsed or spread and who have a certain protein called KIR on the cancer-fighting immune cells (natural killer cells), have a survival rate of 70 percent following autologous stem cell transplant.


Why come to St. Jude for autologous stem cell / bone marrow transplantation?

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