Late effects after an allogeneic transplant

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Learn about the potential late effects after your child's allogeneic transplant.

Key points

  • Chemotherapy medicines taken before a BMT may cause side effects for your child later in life, after treatment has ended.
  • Some late effects may be due to the transplant itself.

Some of the drugs and treatments used to prepare your child for an allogeneic blood and marrow transplant (BMT) may cause damage to healthy cells in the body. This can appear as side effects years later, after your child finishes treatment.

During your child’s BMT, they take many chemotherapy medicines. The treatment is an effective way to prepare your child’s body for the transplant.

These drugs are important because they:

  • suppress your child’s immune system so that the new stem cells can be accepted into your child’s bone marrow space. This is called engraftment. When the transplanted cells engraft, your child’s marrow should start producing new, healthy blood cells.
  • kill your child’s diseased marrow cells. Although this depends on your child’s diagnosis.

However, some of these medicines may also damage healthy cells in different parts of the body. This can appear as side effects many years after your child finishes treatment. These are called late effects.

Many of the potential late effects are a consequence of certain kinds of chemotherapy. Some children also receive radiation to the entire body. This type of radiation therapy is called total body irradiation (TBI). It includes radiation to the brain, which may put your child more at risk for some of the effects discussed in this section.

Because children with various illnesses are treated with BMT, your child may experience late effects that are due to their treatment before the transplant. However, there are some complications that may be more related to the transplant itself.

Learning about the possible late effects may be overwhelming. Keep in mind that these are the potential late effects and not necessarily what your child will develop. Many BMT survivors go on to lead healthy and productive lives. Being aware of possible late effects will help you look for early signs and get the best treatment right away.

Last updated: March 19th 2010