45TAB THREE | UNDERSTANDING CANCER patient guide
Stem Cell Transplantation
Transplantation of blood-forming stem cells enables patients to receive high doses of chemotherapy, radiation or both.
The high doses destroy both cancer cells and normal blood cells in the bone marrow. After the treatment, the patient
receives healthy, blood-forming stem cells through a ﬂexible tube placed in a large vein. New blood cells develop from the
transplanted stem cells. Stem cells may be taken from the patient before the high-dose treatment, or they may come from
another person. Patients stay in the hospital for this treatment.
The side effects of high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation include infection and bleeding. In addition, graft-
versus-host disease (GVHD) may occur in people who receive stem cells from a donor. In GVHD, the donated stem cells
attack the patient’s tissues. Most often, GVHD affects the liver, skin or digestive tract. GVHD can be severe or even fatal.
It can occur any time after the transplant, even years later. Drugs may help prevent, treat or control GVHD.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Some people with cancer use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM):
• An approach is generally called complementary medicine when it is used along with standard treatment.
• An approach is called alternative medicine when it is used instead of standard treatment.
• Acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal products, vitamins or special diets, visualization, meditation, and spiritual healing are types of CAM. Many people say that CAM helps them feel better. However, some types of CAM may change the way standard treatment works. These changes could be harmful. Other types of CAM could be harmful even if used alone. If you are in treatment, always speak to your physician before using any type of CAM.
• You also may ﬁnd materials from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, another part of the National Institutes of Health. You can reach the NCCAM Clearinghouse toll-free at 1–888–644–6226 (voice) and 1–866–464–3615 (TTY). In addition, you can visit the Center’s Website at http://www.nccam.nih.gov or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may want to ask the doctor these questions before you decide to use CAM:
• What beneﬁts can I expect from this therapy?
• What are its risks?
• Do the expected beneﬁts outweigh the risks?
• What side effects should I watch for?
• Will the therapy change the way my cancer treatment works? Could this be harmful?
• Is this therapy under study in a clinical trial? If so, who sponsors the trial?
• Will my health insurance pay for this therapy?