Stem cell transplants are used to treat people whose stem cells have been damaged by disease or the treatment of a disease, or as a way to have the donor's immune system fight a blood disorder such as leukemia. Stem cell transplants can benefit people with a variety of both cancerous (malignant) and noncancerous (nonmalignant) diseases.

A stem cell transplant may help treat blood disorders by:

  • Killing cancer cells. In a stem cell transplant procedure, you'll first be given powerful drugs (chemotherapy) with or without radiation therapy to kill the cancer cells. Doctors then infuse into your body healthy stem cells that previously have been collected from you or a donor. The new stem cells migrate to your bone marrow and, over time, produce healthy new cells. In addition, the donor cells also have the ability to kill some types of cancer cells.
  • Helping you recover faster from high doses of chemotherapy and radiation. The healthy cells infused in a stem cell transplant also may allow you to recover faster from chemotherapy and radiation, as these cells haven't been exposed to chemotherapy and radiation.
Aug. 22, 2012