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People with cancer may have a stem cell transplant for 2 main reasons:
Doctors consider a number of important factors before deciding to treat cancer with a stem cell transplant.
Younger people often tolerate stem cell transplants better and have fewer complications. Some transplant centres set upper age limits. Age limits may be flexible depending on the person’s general health and other factors.
People who have major health problems, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, may not be suitable candidates for a stem cell transplant.
Doctors consider different aspects of the cancer when deciding to use stem cell transplant, including:
A stem cell transplant may be used if research shows that this treatment is more likely to cure the cancer than other treatments.
Many factors influence which type of stem cell transplant a person has. Doctors decide to use the person’s own stem cells (autologous transplant) or donor stem cells (allogeneic transplant) based on each person’s needs.
To increase the chance of a successful allogeneic transplant and reduce potential complications, doctors use human leukocyte antigen (HLA)human leukocyte antigen (HLA)A protein found on the surface of all cells, including white blood cells (leukocytes) and platelets, that plays a role in the immune system’s response to foreign substances. typing to match donors and recipients.
Doctors carefully consider the benefits and risks before offering a stem cell transplant. Sometimes a stem cell transplant is offered for a disease (such as multiple myeloma) that cannot be cured. In this case, the stem cell transplant can lengthen the period of remission.
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