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Questions to Ask: Stem Cell Transplants for Blood Cancers


7. What will happen after my stem cell transplant?

Find out what precautions you will need to take to guard against infection in the first month. You’ll also want to know how to deal with feeling tired and weak right after the transplant. Ask your doctor if you will receive transfusions and special nutrition.

8. What about side effects?

Ask your doctor about likely side effects, including flu-like symptoms, nausea, and fatigue. You will also want to learn which complications you may be at risk for. Find out if you will need drugs to prevent rejection of the donor cells and to fight bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

9. How long until I can go back to my normal activities?

For the first few weeks, it’s likely that you won’t feel up to doing much. Your doctor can help you develop a plan for gradually getting back into your work, family, and exercise routines. Most patients, after a full year with minimal complications, can return to their regular schedule.

10. Will I recover faster with a transplant using my own stem cells?

This is usually the case, but your doctor will recommend the type of transplant you need. If you had a transplant using donor stem cells, they will grow in (engraft) more slowly.

11. How long before I know if the transplant was successful?

Your doctor’s office will schedule regular checkups to monitor you for complications. In most cases, it takes about two months for the body to produce healthy blood cells once again.

12. What if the transplant fails?

You may need additional chemotherapy, radiation, and possibly another stem cell transplant. Together, you and your doctor can decide what treatment is best for you.

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Reviewed on May 29, 2012

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