Also known as stem cell transplant, a bone marrow transplant is considered to be an effective option for handling certain types of cancers. It could certainly make a difference between life and death for patients who are suffering from leukemia and various other types of cancer and blood disorders. While it could mean the difference between life and death, there are also some dangers and risks associated with a bone marrow transplant. It does come with the risk of side effects and the same has to be addressed properly without which the whole exercise of bone marrow transplant might become irrelevant and meaningless. While some side effects may subside and resolve within a period, some side effects can be permanent. Hence, before going in for a bone marrow transplant, you must discuss with your health care team and get to know more about the possible side effects. These include short-term effects that could last for a few weeks or months. Further, there are some long term side effects also and these could take years to resolve or could become a life-long phenomenon. The side effects could range from anemia. This is a vital aspect of cancer care and treatment. Handling side effects is often referred to as supportive care or palliative care. You must frankly discuss the symptoms with the healthcare team so that the right solution could be found.
Some Side Effects of Auto Transplant
Before a transplant of the bone marrow is done, patients often receive a combination of radiation therapy or chemotherapy. In many cases, it could be either one of the two. Many side effects of auto stem cell transplant are the same that are associated with the treatment of various forms of cancer and other such terminal diseases. The risk of infections is one of the most dangerous or frightening. This is essentially caused because of a big reduction in the number of white blood cells in the body.
Chemotherapy tends to weaken the immune system of our body. Patients might be at a much higher risk of infections caused by viruses, germs, and bacteria. The risk is the highest after the first few weeks of infection. While certain drugs can fight the infection, for many patients the immune system gets damaged after chemotherapy and it remains that way permanently. There are many instances where patients who have undergone chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant are put on antibacterial and antiviral drugs for as long as one year or even more.
A Few More Side Effects
Apart from the increasing risk of reduced immune power, the patients may also suffer from other problems. These could vary from one person to another and could range from fatigue, mouth sores, vomiting and nausea, low platelet count, reduction in red blood cells and much more. These could lead to a reduction of the ability of the blood to clot and could also lead to anemia. Some people also complain of diarrhea
There also could be long term effects such as cataracts, infertility, an early setting of menopause, bone or lung damage, and risk of new forms of cancers amongst various other problems.