When I was first diagnosed with a blood cancer, multiple myeloma, in 1994, the state of the art conventional therapy (but experimental and not FDA approved) at the time was bone marrow transplantation. While I was relatively young I was not a pediatric cancer patient.
Autologus bmt’s (your own stem cells) were much less dangerous than allogeneic bmt’s (donor stem cells) and therefore I had an auto bmt. Umbilical cord bmt’s were not even invented at the time.
Allogeneic bmt’s offered a possible cure of one’s cancer and therefore had to be considered.The main problem with an allo bmt was a side effect called Graft vs. Host Disease (GvHD). Over 50% of those who had a allo bmt died of GvHD with a year. Awful, awful side effect.
Skip ahead to today. Bone marrow transplants, as a form of therapy, have come a long way. While cord blood bmt’s still come with serious side effects, they offer real progress over bmt’s even 10 years ago.
Bone marrow transplantation whether autologus (your own stem cells), allogeneic (a donor’s stem cells) or umbilical cord blood, is “high-dose chemotherapy aka aggressive conventional therapy. Aggressive therapy increases the risk of collateral damage aka side effects. Caregivers of pediatric or AYA cancer patients must work closely with your oncologist to understand all possible risks of bone marrow transplantation.
The wikipedia post linked below offers a good overall discussion of Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
As the two articles linked below indicate, there are several benefits to umbilical cord transplants over allogeneic bone marrow transplants.
If you are a caregiver of either a pediatric or AYA cancer patient and you are considering a bone marrow transplant for your child, do your homework.
I am a long-term cancer survivor and cancer coach. Don’t hesitate to ask questions- of your onc, of me, etc. Please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.