The possible alternatives to bone marrow transplant

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AP Photo/Agapito Sanchez, Baylor College of Medicine

MONTREAL Finding a donor for a stem cell transplant is perhaps one of the most difficult things for a cancer patient.

This is because stem cells are one of the few things that patients cannot rely on their immediate family to donate, according to to Doctor Silvy Lachance, Director of the stem cell transplant program at Hpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont.

Of course, we first look within the family, she said.

But there is only 25 per cent chance of identifying a donor. If we dont find a donor within the family, we try the international donor registry.

According to the National Cancer Institute, bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplantations are most commonly used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma (a cancer that affects mostly infants and children) and multiple myeloma.

While they wait for a compatible donor, patients will be assigned a conditioning regiment, which may include radiation.

This conditioning regiment will be followed by the infusion of stem cells that are compatible with the recipient, said Lachance.

Yet, for most ethnic minorities or anyone of mixed-birth, the chances of finding an anonymous donor remain very difficult.

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The possible alternatives to bone marrow transplant

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