In the past decade, doctors have been discussing the potential merits of the stem cell transplant procedure. Bone marrow transplants show a lot of promise in the eradication of leukemia, however, each patient takes a huge risk while going under the knife. While leukemia is a disease that usually manifests during childhood, thousands of adults have also been diagnosed with this form of cancer. Besides radiation and chemo therapy, many treatments for leukemia only help lessen side effects.
Stem cell banking has also proven useful when it comes to the treatment of leukemia. However, patients are severely limited in who they can get umbilical cord stem cell donations from. Donations from blood relatives are always preferred, but anyone that is a match can also be utilized. The main problem is that few people have donated blood cords and the wait list is extremely long.
Some doctors have taken to using pluripotent stem cells when cord blood is not available. Derived from adults, these stem cells can be helpful for leukemia, but they have also led to lower post-transplant success rates. Autologous stem cell transplant is also utilized when a donor match cannot be found in time. Recovery times after stem cell transplant can be quick, but doctors say that it can usually take a few months. Constant monitoring is necessary to see whether or not a second stem cell transplant will be necessary.
Post stem cell transplant recovery often takes place in hospitals and specialty clinics. A modified diet, plenty of bed rest, physical therapy and testing will take place until the patient is deemed healthy enough to go home. Not all stem cell transplant procedures go as planned, but there are currently no other leukemia treatments that can completely cure the disease.
Leukemia is a potentially fatal disease, but new stem cell treatment techniques are working to save lives. Children and adults with leukemia can ask their friends and family to donate blood to see if they are a match, or they can sign up for national bone marrow banks. It is also possible to use your own stem cells to treat leukemia, but this method is still in the developmental stages.