Medicines and side effects of a blood and marrow transplant

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

Learn about the medicines your child may take during a blood and marrow transplant.

Key points

  • It is important to give your child medications as instructed by their doctor and pharmacist.
  • To prepare for chemotherapy, your child may take a chemotherapeutic medicine called busulfan.

Your child will take different medicines before, during, and after their blood and marrow transplant (BMT). For example, many of these will be chemotherapy medicines at high doses during the conditioning regimen.

You can find information on the main medicines your child may take during their transplant experience. Here are some points to keep in mind when handling your child’s medicines.

Keep a list of all medications your child is on and show the list to the doctor or pharmacist.

Do not share your child’s medicine with others. Do not give anyone else’s medicine to your child.

Check with your child’s doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any other medicines. These include prescription, non-prescription, herbal, or natural products.

Do not keep any medicines that are out of date. Check with your pharmacist about the best way to throw away outdated or leftover medicines.

Do not give your child drugs containing acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) without talking to your doctor. Many non-prescription drugs contain ASA. Common products containing ASA include:

  • Aspirin®
  • Bufferin®
  • Anacin®
  • Entrophen®
  • Novasen®
  • Aspergum®
  • some Alka-Seltzer® products
  • some cold preparations

Do not give your child Tylenol. It may mask a fever that could go unnoticed.

Ask your pharmacist if you have questions or concerns when choosing a non-prescription medicine.

Keep all drugs out of your child’s sight and reach, locked up in a safe place. If your child takes a larger dose than she should have, call your primary doctor, nurse, or the hematology/oncology fellow on call at your hospital.

If none are available, call the Poison Information Centre for your region.


To prepare for chemotherapy, your child may take a chemotherapeutic medicine called busulfan.

The body’s ability to distribute busulfan varies from child to child. For example, smaller children dispense the drug more quickly than larger children. For this reason, younger children generally need higher doses of busulfan.

Your child’s doctor will give your child a dose of busulfan that will optimize the anti-cancer effect while minimizing negative side effects. The doctor will take samples of your child’s blood to check how your child responds to the drug. This is called a pharmacokinetic study. The study is usually done before your child starts treatment or after your child receives the first dose of busulfan.

For a list of the medicines commonly given during a BMT, please speak to your child's doctor. Your child may take some of these medicines before or after their transplant. The type of drugs will vary depending on the type of transplant and your child's treatment protocol.

Last updated: March 5th 2010