ABC Medical Center > Cancer > What to expect after a bone marrow transplant

What to expect after a bone marrow transplant

24 February 2021


Key points:

  • Recovery from a bone marrow transplant is not easy, you will have to spend a few days under observation and undergo some tests to check that everything is going well.

  • As a result of the procedure, some side effects or infections may arise, the doctor will determine the appropriate treatment to relieve symptoms and restore comfort.

  • This surgery can cure or remit some diseases, the objectives are different for each particular case, however, in all cases, it seeks to improve the patient’s quality of life.

Bone Marrow Transplant consists of the transfusion of healthy stem or hematopoietic stem cells to a patient after eliminating their own diseased bone marrow through chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy (conditioning regimen). Hematopoietic cells are obtained from the donor’s bone marrow or peripheral blood. It is used to treat diseases such as:

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphomas
  • Myeloma
  • Among other types of cancer

When the new stem cells enter the body, they travel to the bone marrow through the blood. Over time, they multiply and begin to create new healthy cells. The number of blood cells in the body usually begins to return to normal after several weeks.

After the transplant, you will be under close medical supervision to make sure everything is going smoothly. If an infection or other complication develops, you may need to stay in the hospital for several days, including regular red blood cell and platelet transfusions, until your bone marrow begins to produce enough healthy cells on its own.

What side effects can I have after the transplant?

Nausea and vomiting: may be caused by the drugs given for chemotherapy before surgery. They are usually eradicated with medications administered by the treating physician before each therapy.

Mouth and throat pain: this is a short-term side effect that can occur with chemotherapy and radiation. It usually clears up within a few weeks after treatment but can make eating and drinking very painful.

Infections: because after transplant you won’t have many well-functioning white blood cells, as they are the primary immune cells that fight infection.

What should I eat after my stem cell transplant?

You may need to adjust your diet to stay healthy and prevent excessive weight gain.

Physical activity can help control your weight, strengthen your bones, increase your endurance, strengthen your muscles, and keep your heart healthy. Check with your doctors when it is the right time for you to return to your usual exercises.

What about the results, how do I know the treatment worked?

It will take about 6 months for your blood counts and immune system to fully recover. During this time, the risk of infections, bleeding, and skin problems is higher, therefore, extreme care is essential.

Your body is still weak, it can take up to a year for you to feel much better than before the transplant, so you will likely tire easily and have a poor appetite.

A bone marrow transplant can cure some diseases and stop or reverse others. The objectives depend on each situation, but, in general, they can be to control or cure a disease, prolong life, and improve the patient’s quality of life.

Some people who have this procedure have few side effects and complications, while others need a longer recovery time; the severity of the disease and the transplant’s success will vary from person to person, which is difficult to predict before the transplant.

Having the support of your friends and family will help you get through this stage. Remember that you and your family can join a support group of people who understand what you are going through.

At the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of the ABC Medical Center we can provide you with specialized care. Contact Us!


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