Division of Hematology/Oncology

Treatments

Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant

The hematologists and medical oncologists of Penn's Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program are nationally recognized for their expertise in clinical care and bone marrow and stem cell transplant research.

The Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program is located in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

About Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant

Bone marrow is a spongy red substance found inside the body's large bones. It is made up of hematopoietic stem cells which are taken from and then given back to a patient during a bone marrow transplant.

A bone marrow transplant is a procedure to replace bone marrow that has been destroyed by treatment with high doses of anticancer drugs or radiation. A bone marrow transplant is used to treat certain cancers like leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Stem cell transplant is very similar to bone marrow transplant except that the stem cells are harvested from the patient's bloodstream rather than the bone marrow. The purpose of stem cell transplant in cancer treatment is similar to transplanting bone marrow, namely to make it possible for patients to receive very high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

There are three kinds of bone marrow and stem cell transplantation. An autologous transplant collects the patient's own bone marrow or stem cells before the cancer treatment. After treatment, the collected cells are returned to the patient to replace the cells destroyed by the cancer treatment.

An allogeneic transplant uses donor bone marrow or stem cells to replace the cells destroyed by the cancer treatment. A series of special tests are performed to find a donor who is a match for the patient.

Cord blood transplant removes stem cells from a baby's umbilical cord immediately after being born. The stem cells are stored until they are needed for a transplant. Umbilical cord blood cells are immature and there is less of a concern for them being a match.

The Penn Difference

At Penn Medicine, each bone marrow and stem cell transplant team includes:

  • Nationally recognized experts with years of experience in performing bone marrow and stem cell transplants
  • Advanced diagnostic testing, treatments and technologies
  • Coordinated, multidisciplinary care
  • Support services and education programs
  • Innovative clinical trials
  • The backing of a major research program with immediate translation of findings to patient care
  • The expertise and support of the Abramson Cancer Center, a comprehensive cancer center recognized by the National Cancer Institute as "exceptional" that provides cancer patients with specialized treatment and support teams.

Diseases Treated with Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplantation

Bone marrow/stem cell transplantation is not appropriate for all patients. Hematologists/oncologists at Penn Medicine use bone marrow/stem cell transplantation to treat:

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Myelodysplasia
  • Myeloma

In addition to bone marrow transplant and stem cell therapy, Penn medical oncology treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted molecular therapy
  • Vaccine therapy