Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT)

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant

Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) is a special type of treatment that involves transplanting healthy, functioning blood stem cells into a patient's body. The goal of HSCT is to replace a patient's damaged or diseased bone marrow or blood cells with healthy cells, thus restoring the normal production of all the different types of cells found in the blood and immune system. HSCT is used to treat many different types of diseases, including cancer, genetic disorders, and metabolic diseases.

HSCT requires intensive preparation both on the part of the patient and the medical care team. The process typically begins with an evaluation to determine if the patient is a good candidate for HSCT and to create an individualized care plan. Then, the patient must undergo an intense course of chemotherapy to prepare the body for the transplant.

HSCT involves using either the patient's own (autologous) or a donor’s (allogeneic) stem cells. Both autologous and allogeneic transplants can be used to treat various types of cancer or blood disorders. Once healthy stem cells have been obtained, they are infused into the patient's bloodstream where they can begin to produce healthy, functioning blood cells.

Benefits of HSCT include:

  • Improved or complete recovery from cancer or other blood disorders
  • Restored immunity to protect against infection
  • Less severe side effects than those associated with standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation
  • Reduced risk of relapse

However, HSCT also comes with certain risks and side effects that should be discussed with the medical team prior to undergoing the procedure. These may include an increased risk of infection, bleeding, nausea, and fatigue. Other serious side effects such as graft versus host disease (GVHD) may also occur.

HSCT is an effective and potentially life-saving treatment for many diseases. However, it is not a cure. It is important for patients to be aware of the risks and side effects associated with the procedure, as well as the long-term effects it can have.