What is a stem cell or bone marrow transplant?
Blood stem cells are made in the bone marrow which is a spongy material filling the inside cavities of our bones.
Sometimes the bone marrow itself can be diseased or is removed by high dose chemotherapy. A stem cell transplant is used to treat some types of cancers, leukaemias or lymphomas. The aim of a transplant is to achieve a cure or a long remission (a period of time free from disease).
A transplant allows for very high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to be given to treat disease. The high-dose treatment destroys the bone marrow and stem cells. So, after the high-dose treatment the patient will be given an intravenous infusion (drip) of either their own cells (autologous transplant) or donated cells (allogeneic transplant).
- Autologous transplants are performed at the Royal Hobart Hospital
Information Brochure - Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant
- Allogeneic transplants are performed interstate; patients are usually referred to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Collecting stem cells
Stem cells can be taken from the blood or from the bone marrow.
Taking stem cells from the blood
Before the stem cells taken from the bloodstream, the cells are made to move from the bone marrow into the blood. This involves being given a short course of injections of a growth factor (G-CSF) sometimes after chemotherapy. |
The growth factor is given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously). Regular blood tests are performed to measure the quantity of stem cells in the blood; when there are enough they will be collected.
Collecting the stem cells takes 3–4 hours. Blood is collected, through a cannula or a central venous access device (CVAD), into a machine called a cell separator. The separator spins the blood to separate out the stem cells. These are collected, and the remaining blood is given back through the cannula or CVAD. This procedure is usually done as a day patient on the Oncology Outpatient Unit, at either the Launceston General Hospital or the Royal Hobart Hospital.
The stem cells are counted to make sure that enough have been collected, before being frozen until they are required after the high-dose chemotherapy treatment. If more stem cells are needed, another collection is performed the next day.
Taking stem cells from the bone marrow
Although it’s more common for stem cells to be collected from blood, in some situations the stem cells may be collected from the bone marrow.
- Statewide Bone Marrow Transplant Coordinator
(03) 6222 8078
- Royal Hobart Hospital Oncology Outpatient Unit (8.00am - 5.00pm)
(03) 6222 8238
- Royal Hobart Hospital Switchboard
(03) 6222 8308
- Launceston General Hospital Oncology Outpatient Unit (8.00am - 4.30pm)
(03) 6348 7140
- Launceston General Hospital Switchboard
(03) 6348 7111
|Cancer Council of Australia||www.cancer.org.au||(03) 6233 2030|
|CANTEEN||www.canteen.org.au||(03) 6223 7550|
|Cancer Institute of NSW||www.cancerinstitute.org.au||(03) 6223 7550|
|Leukaemia Foundation of Australia||www.leukaemia.org.au||1800 555 021|
|Lymphoma Australia||www.lymphoma.org.au||1800 359 081|
|Myeloma Foundation of Australia||www.myeloma.org.au||1800 444 996|
|UK MacMillan Foundation||www.cancerbackup.org.uk|
|Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry||www.abmdr.org.au|