Leukemia--Chronic Lymphocytic Overview

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Treating Leukemia - Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL) TOPICS

Stem cell transplant for chronic lymphocytic leukemia

As noted earlier, chemo can harm normal cells as well as cancer cells. A stem cell transplant (SCT) offers a way for doctors to use the very high doses of chemo needed for effective treatment. Although the drugs destroy the patient's bone marrow, transplanted stem cells can restore the blood-producing bone marrow stem cells.

Stem cells for transplantation are collected from the bone marrow or from the bloodstream (in a process called apheresis). Bone marrow transplant was more common in the past. Now it has been largely replaced by cells taken from the bloodstream.

These blood-forming stem cells can come from either the patient or from a donor whose tissue type closely matches that of the patient. The donor may be a brother or sister or, less often, a person not related to the patient.

It's not clear how helpful stem cell transplants are in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), so many doctors recommend that they should be done as part of a clinical trial (see next section).

To learn more about stem cell transplants, please see the American Cancer Society document, Stem Cell Transplant (Peripheral Blood, Bone Marrow, and Cord Blood Transplants).

Last Medical Review: 08/05/2013
Last Revised: 11/04/2014