Stem cell transplants (SCTs) are sometimes used for hard-to-treat Hodgkin lymphoma , such as disease that doesn’t go away completely after chemotherapy (chemo) and/or radiation or lymphoma that comes back after treatment.
The doses of chemo drugs given to patients normally are limited by the side effects these drugs cause. Higher doses can’t be used, even if they might kill more cancer cells, because they would severely damage the bone marrow, where new blood cells are made.
A stem cell transplant lets doctors give higher doses of chemo (sometimes along with radiation therapy). This is because after getting high-dose chemo, the patient receives a transplant of blood-forming stem cells to rebuild the bone marrow.
The blood-forming stem cells used for a transplant can come either from the blood or from the bone marrow. Today, most transplants are done with cells that are taken out of the blood and are called peripheral stem cell transplants.
There are 2 main types of stem cell transplants. They use different sources of blood-forming stem cells.
A stem cell transplant is a complex treatment that can cause life-threatening side effects. If the doctors think a person might benefit from a transplant, it should be done at a cancer center where the staff has experience with the procedure and with managing the recovery phase.
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National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®), Hodgkin Lymphoma, Version I.2018 -- December 20, 2017. Accessed at www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/hodgkins.pdf on March 20 2018.
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Younes A, Carbone A, Johnson P, Dabaja B, Ansell S, Kuruvilla J. Chapter 102: Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.
Last Revised: May 1, 2018