- Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: A Guide for Patients and Families
- Anxiety and fear
- Appetite, poor
- Blood counts
- Blood in stool
- Blood in urine
- Fluids and dehydration
- Grooming and appearance
- Hair loss
- Leg cramps
- Mouth, bleeding in
- Mouth dryness
- Mouth sores
- Nausea and vomiting
- Scars and wounds
- Shortness of breath
- Skin color changes
- Skin dryness
- Skin (pressure) sores
- Sleep problems
- Steroids and hormones
- Stomas (or ostomies)
- Swallowing problems
- Treatment at home
- Tubes and IV lines
- Weight changes
- When death is approaching
- To learn more
Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: A Guide for Patients and Families
Stem cells are cells in the bone marrow (the spongy, liquid center of certain bones) that constantly make blood cells for the body. Stem cell transplants are used to restock the bone marrow when it has been destroyed by chemotherapy, radiation, or disease. Stem cells can be taken from bone marrow or blood. Stem cells may be the patient’s own (autologous), or they may come from someone else (allogeneic).
Bone marrow transplants (BMTs) were the first method for replacing stem cells, but are used less often today. Now, peripheral blood stem cell transplant (SCT) is the most common method. In peripheral blood stem cell donation, stem cells are taken from circulating blood. Before collection, the donor must take special medicines to cause stem cells to grow and enter the bloodstream.
Your doctor or cancer care team will be able to tell you more about treatment or clinical trials using stem cell transplants.
If you have had a BMT/SCT
What to look for
- skin rashes, especially on palms of hands or soles of feet
- poor appetite, weight loss
- shortness of breath or cough
- tiredness or fatigue
- pain or aching
- stomach cramps
- nausea or vomiting
- mouth sores or dryness
- skin or whites of eyes begin to look yellow
- dizziness, paleness, or other signs of low hemoglobin (See the section in this booklet on blood counts and low hemoglobin.)
- fever, shaking chills, or other signs of infection (See the section in this booklet on blood counts and low white blood cells.)
- blood in stool or urine, bleeding from anywhere (See the section in this booklet on blood counts and low platelets.)
What patients can do
- Go to every scheduled appointment.
- Ask questions. Your cancer care team will help you.
- Ask about side effects and what to do if you have them.
- Take medicines exactly as prescribed.
- Ask about when you should notify your doctor of any changes.
- If you are having other symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting, please see the related sections in this booklet and call your doctor.
What caregivers can do
- Go with the patient to appointments, and ask the cancer team about any concerns you have.
- Help watch for side effects and symptoms, and see the sections in this booklet related to those side effects.
Call the doctor if the patient:
- has any of the problems above or other symptoms that cause concern
- has a question or hears things about stem cell or bone marrow transplants that concern him
For more in-depth information on bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplants, call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 and ask for a copy of Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant. You can also find information on the Web at cancer.org.
Last Medical Review: 11/12/2009
Last Revised: 11/12/2009