Different types of Stem Cell Transplants

Different types of Stem Cell Transplants
My stem cell transplant was of the Auto type.  Me donating to myself my own stem cells.”There are two basic types of stem cell transplants and several good sources for these cells. You and your doctor will decide together on the best choice for you.
The main types are:

Autologous (“Auto”) Stem Cell Transplant

This type of transplant uses your own stem cells. Most transplants for multiple myeloma and relapsed non-Hodgkin’s or Hodgkin lymphoma are autologous.

Advantages: Less risk of rejection or graft-versus-host disease, in which the new donor cells think your cells are foreign and attack them. Quicker engraftment. Fewer side effects.

How It Works:

  • Your own stem cells are collected, frozen, and stored.
  • You have “conditioning treatment” with chemotherapy and possibly radioimmunotherapy to kill the cancer cells and the immature stem cells left in your bone marrow.
  • Your previously collected stem cells are thawed and transplanted back into you.

Allogeneic (“Allo”) Stem Cell Transplant

This type of transplant uses a donor’s stem cells, either from a relative or a volunteer registered with the National Marrow Donor Program or other registry. It is less common than autologous transplants. It’s used for many leukemias, aggressive lymphomas, and failed autologous transplants.

Advantages: The transplanted stem cells are cancer-free. Because the transplant creates a new immune system, the cancer-killing effect continues after the transplant.

How It Works:

  • The stem cells come from the bone marrow or peripheral stem cells of a matched donor or from umbilical cord blood.
  • You receive conditioning treatment with chemotherapy and radiation. This kills the cancer cells and destroys or weakens your own immune system so the donor’s immune system can take over.
  • You receive the transplant of the donor stem cells.

Sources of Stem Cells for Transplants

Here’s a summary of how stem cells from different sources are harvested.

  • Your own peripheral cells (stem cells in your bloodstream)
    • The blood is collected in three to five appointments when your cancer is not active.
    • The blood is spun in a machine like a centrifuge to separate the stem cells.
    • The stem cells are purged or cleaned to remove any remaining cancer cells.
    • You receive back the other portions of your blood.
    • The stem cells are frozen to be placed back into your body after you have had chemotherapy and/or radiation.
    • Enough cells are usually collected for two transplantation procedures, especially for multiple myeloma.
  • Your own bone marrow
    • Stem cells are taken from a site near your hip, under general anesthesia. (This is rarely done in autologous donation.) This is not commonly performed anymore.
  • Donor peripheral cells
    • Peripheral stem cells from another person are collected from blood drawn over two to three days.
    • The blood is spun in a machine like a centrifuge to separate the stem cells, and then the donor receives back the other portions of blood.Donor bone marrow
      • Stem cells are taken from the donor’s hip under general anesthesia. This is not commonly performed anymore.


American Cancer Society: “Stem Cell Transplant.”

Bone Marrow Clinical Trials Network: “BMT CTN 0102 protocol.”

Medscape: “Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation.”

American Society of Clinical Oncology: “Understanding Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Types of Bone Marrow Transplants.”

National Cancer Institute: “Understanding Cancer Series/Stem Cells.”




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.