Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bone Marrow Transplant


Bone marrow is a spongy tissue found inside bones. Bone marrow contains stem cells which are capable of transforming into cartilage bone, blood cells, and platelets. As stem cells can transform and grow into different types of cells, bone marrow can be transplanted from one person to another.

Two types of bone marrow are present in human being – red marrow and yellow marrow. The basic function of bone marrow is to produce new blood cells. Disorders of bone marrow may lead to a number of diseases including cancer. Cancers of the bone marrow are classified into different kinds depending on the affectation of neoplasm. There are a number of treatments for bone marrow cancer, one of which is Bone Marrow Transplantation.

The process of transplantation

In this process, bone marrow is taken from living donors whose body cells match that of the recipient's. The process is termed bone marrow harvest. Usually, bone marrow is harvested from the donor's hip bone under general anaesthesia. The required amount of marrow is collected by inserting a needle into the rear hip bone's cavity. The procedure is repeated several times in order to collect the required amount of marrow. As the hip bone contains large quantity of marrow, it is the right bone to collect the desired fluid. Normally, the donor experiences slight discomfort, but the risk involved in negligible.



After the affected bone marrow of the patient is destroyed by radiation or chemotherapy, the healthy marrow collected from the donor is infused into the patient's blood. This new marrow reaches the cavities of large bones and starts producing new blood cells.

Complications involved in the process

There are many complications that might arise from transplantation of bone marrow. Important among them are explained below.

A critical complication is the lack of engraftment. This means the transplanted stem cells fail to grow with in the receiver's body. In this case, the transplantation is considered a failure.

Another major complication that may occur at the early stages of recovery is Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD). This is because receiver's immunity defence mechanism attacks transplanted marrow cells. To overcome this, patient is administered immunosuppressant medicines before the transplant. GVHD is curable but in extreme conditions, this can be life threatening.

Another probable complication is Veno-occlusive Disease which involves the kidney or the liver wherein build up of dead cells block the blood vessels of kidney or liver.

Other minor complications are bleeding and infection, which can easily be controlled with suitable drugs.

How Well a Patient Survives Bone Marrow Transplant?

The survival rate of bone marrow transplant patients depends on various factors. Usually factors such as the quality of treatment given, patient's mental and psychological condition and precautions taken after the transplant decide the bone marrow transplant survival rate. Studies have shown that it is anywhere between 70% and 98%.

The high survival rate can be attributed to factors such as the type of transplant; degree of matching between the donor's and recipient's cells, patient's age and health condition or the patient's genes. Bone marrow transplantation survival rate is also attributed to reasons like type of chemotherapy received before the transplant and most importantly improved quality of anti-rejection medicines that are available now.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bone Cancer Treatment

There are a variety of methods which can help treat bone cancer. Depending on the extent of the tumor, cancer location, severity of the condition the doctor recommends treatment for bone cancer.

Bone Cancer Treatment Options
Patients generally have to undergo surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy for treatment of bone cancer. The treatment may either be individually or may be a combination of the all the three, depending on the extent of bone cancer.

Surgery – Treatment of Bone Cancer
Surgery is the most common method for treating bone cancer and it is done when the tumor is big and has to be removed completely. Surgery is resorted to when the entire bone and the surrounding parts of the bone creates problems for the patient. A pathologist generally examines the complete bone to check for any further tumor growth. If the tumor is not removed completely, then the cells may slowly start growing and it can affect the entire area covering the bone and the surrounding areas of the bones. There are greater chances of recurrence of bone cancer; hence the surgery needs to be done with care.

In the past, patients had to undergo amputations for removal of bone cancer. However, with the introduction of new and sophisticated techniques, it is possible to get rid of a tumor. If the tumor has not spread to the entire bone, it can be easily scraped and a smaller bone graft can be placed.

Bone grafting for replacing the bone
A smaller tumor can be addressed with a smaller bone graft. However, if the bone has been damaged considerably, the surgeon will have to go for a larger graft, which may be either a bone implant.

Chemotherapy for stopping further growth of cancer cells
The patient is next referred for chemotherapy as this helps in preventing further growth of cancer cells. Generally, the medical oncologist will suggest chemotherapy prior to bone surgery so that the tumor shrinks in size. This makes the surgery easier and the success rate is much higher. Chemotherapy may also be suggested after the surgery to prevent further growth of cancer cells.

Chemotherapy sessions have proven to be very effective in killing cancer cells. The only drawback is that at times even healthy cells may be killed. Patients may experience giddiness, nausea, hair loss, extreme tiredness after the chemotherapy sessions.

Radiation for killing cancer cells
Radiation helps in killing the bone cancer cells and this is done in some doses. The therapy takes few weeks to months. The type of radiation and the dosage varies with the type of cancer. This is indeed a very effective treatment for bone cancer.

Bone Cancer Treatment – Possible side-effects
All of us will agree that every treatment may have some side effects or the other. Some of the side effects in the treatment of bone cancer are infection in the bone, cancer recurrence, damage to the surrounding areas etc. This is when the doctor refers the patient to a bone rehabilitation specialist for occupational therapy sessions. The patient definitely finds an improvement in the overall strength and confidence levels.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stage 4 Bone Cancer Survival Rates

Stage 4 Bone Cancer Survival Rates

Bone cancer was once a disease that just wasn’t easy to cure. The person suffering from the disease had to undergo an array of tests and treatments, and still the chances of survival were next to negligible. With the advancement of technology, it has become easy to fight bone cancer to a very large extent. There are three main types of bone cancer namely osteosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma and chondrosarcoma.

These types can either be on the primary stage or the secondary stage. On the primary stage the cancer hasn’t spread and is still in the bone. It can be cured easily and its survival rate is more. Whereas the secondary stage is the phase in which the cancer spreads to the adjoining tissues and parts. This stage is fatal and the stage 4 bone cancer survival rate is also low.

Every type of bone cancer is divided into four different stages. And depending on the stage that the patient is in the survival rate is figured.

1. The first stage is the initial stage also known as the primary stage. This is the stage when the patients are diagnosed early. Thus the survival rate of this stage is about 71% to 88%.

2. The secondary stage is the one in which the tumor has increased in size but has not spread to the regional lymph nodes. These are the parts present outside the cancerous bone. The survival rate at this stage is about 57 to 70 %.

3. The third stage is the phase when the cancer spreads on exterior parts of the bones, i.e. the regional lymph nodes. The survival rate of this type of cancer is around 63%.

4. The last is the stage 4 cancer. The stage 4 caner is the most challenging form of cancer. At this stage the cancer has been spread into the surrounding organs and is the most serious. The Stage 4 bone cancer survival rate is nearly 19% to 49%.

Since the patients suffering from the stage 4 bone cancer are in a very severe condition and the tumor is spread into other organs, the stage 4 bone cancer survival rate is generally low. It is not that this stage of cancer cannot be treated at all. Because there still are treatments available to treat it like heaviest doses of chemotherapy and other drugs.


The stage 4 bone cancer survival rate depends on various factors like:

1. The treatment offered
2. The type of stage 4 bone cancer
3. The bone suffering and the organ it has spread to
4. The age of the patient
5. The overall health of the patient (physical and mental)

All the above issues will factor into the stage 4 bone cancer survival rate. The statistics come out of the stage 4 bone cancer survival rates do not help in forecasting the patient’s survival. Because of its severity, it is impractical to estimate the life expectancy of the individual suffering from the stage 4 bone cancer.