Bone marrow transplants are required when a person’s bone marrow becomes damaged or diseased to such an extent that it stops functioning properly.
This may be due to certain cancers, such as:
- leukaemia – cancer of the white blood cells
- non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system), or a related cancer of the blood
Leukaemia has a few main sub-types:
- acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – which mainly affects children, adolescents and young adults
- acute myeloid leukaemia – which affects both children and adults
- chronic lymphocytic leukaemia – which mainly affects older adults
- chronic myeloid leukaemia – which mainly affects adults, although most are treated with drugs and do not need a transplant
Other diseases that may require a bone marrow transplant include:
- certain genetic blood and immune system disorders – such as sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia and some severe immune system diseases
- bone marrow failure (severe aplastic anaemia)
- other diseases that affect the blood, such as multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects blood plasma cells
Bone marrow transplants are also sometimes necessary following certain treatments, such as high-dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which are often used to treat cancer. These treatments tend to damage healthy stem cells as well as destroying cancer cells.
Read more detailed information about bone marrow transplants.