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A 46-year-old member asked:

What is the mechanism by which stem cell transplants actually cure leukemia?

2 doctor answers2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Michael Dugan
Specializes in Hematology
Two mechanisms: The stem cell rescue allows a higher dose of chemotherapy to be delivered safely (leads to timely blood count recovery). This is true in both self and donor transplants. In the case of a donor, the new immune system can lead to an immunologic attack on any leukemic cells which survive the high dose chemo +/- radiation.
Dr. Matthew Fero
Medical Oncology 31 years experience
Graft vs leukemia: A stem cell transplant (SCT) is often given after high doses of chemotherapy, which by itself is very effective against leukemia. But that's not the whole story. Typically, SCT for leukemia are donated by another person (allogeneic). Minor antigenic differences between donor and patient will cause immune cells in the graft to react against against the tumor (graft vs tumor effect).

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A 41-year-old member asked:

How do stem cell transplants actually cure leukemia cancers?

2 doctor answers3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
Radiation Oncology 47 years experience
They don't!: Very high dose alkylating agent chemotherapy is used to kill the leukemia, and the autologpus (self) or allogeneic (antigen matched donor) stem cell or marrow elements rescue the marrow ablation caused by the chemotherapy. The high dose chemotherapy remains limited by other organ toxicities, and is not always sufficient to destroy the leukemia.
A 37-year-old member asked:

How can stem cell transplants actually cure leukemia?

1 doctor answer2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Sewa Legha
Medical Oncology 50 years experience
It is one of the bes: Stem cell transplants do indeed cure some leukemias. The procedure requires total body radiation, high dose chemotherapy to kill all blood cells(including leukemia cells) and then we use stem cells to regenerate the normal bone marrow in order to form new healthy blood cells.
A 44-year-old member asked:

What illnesses can be cured using stem cell transplants?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Keith Stockerl-Goldstein
Hematology and Oncology 30 years experience
Many: The main lethal disease treated with stem cell transplants are hematologic malignancies such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Bone marrow failure (aplastic anemia) is also treated with stem cell transplants. Some life-threatening genetic disease can also be treated with a transplant.

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Last updated Jan 4, 2015

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