What is a stem cell transplant?

Having a stem cell transplant allows you to have much higher doses of chemotherapy than usual. This may help to improve the chances of curing the leukaemia, or prolonging a remission but also has risks attached to it.

What is an allogeneic stem cell transplant?

Some people with AML will be given stem cells from someone else (a donor). This depends on the risk of the AML relapsing. This is called an allogeneic stem cell transplant. A donor stem cell transplant replaces your immune system with the immune system of your donor. The immune system defends the body against infections and diseases like cancer. Since the donor’s immune system can kill the leukaemia cells, the transplant reduces the chances of the leukaemia relapsing.

Stem cell transplants may help a number of people with AML, but they will not be suitable or needed for everyone. If your specialist thinks an allogenic stem cell transplant is necessary or an option for you, they will discuss it with you in detail.

What is an autologous stem cell transplant?

In some situations you can have a transfusion of your own stem cells. This is called an autologous stem cell transplant. But it isn’t done often for people with AML.

Having an autologous stem cell transplant means having intensive chemotherapy, with or without radiotherapy. Then your own stem cells are returned afterwards to rescue your bone marrow from the effect of the treatment.

If you have APL that has come back after treatment, you may have an autologous stem cell transplant.

Back to Stem cell transplants explained

Your feelings

You may experience difficult feelings after your treatment. Talking to those close to you can help.