nbmtLINK - National Bone Marrow Transplant Link
Home  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Terms of Use

Give Today!
About nbmtLINK
Common Questions
Resources and Support News and Events
Make a Contribution
Web Links
Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly e-nnouncements Get the latest news on programs for BMT patients, survivors, and caregivers.
nbmtLINK Online Library - Search for specific, relevant and current information about bone marrow/stem cell transplant

Fax 248-358-1889
20411 W. 12 Mile Rd.
Suite 108
Southfield, MI

Resources and Support

Resource Guide for Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant


Adjuvant chemotherapy—Drugs used to kill cancer cells. They are given with other treatments, such as surgery or radiation, to destroy areas of tumor.

Allogeneic transplant—The person donating the bone marrow or stem cells is a closely matched family member, usually a brother or sister. Or the person donating the bone marrow is a closely matched unrelated donor.

Alopecia—A partial or complete hair loss, usually a temporary side effect of the chemotherapy.

Anemia—A condition that occurs when the body’s red blood cell count is low.

Antibody—A protein produced by the white blood cells (leukocytes) to battle foreign substances that enter the body, such as bacteria.

Antigen—A foreign substance that induces the production of antibodies.

Apheresis—The peripheral blood stem cell collection process in which blood is taken from a patient and circulated through a machine that separates out stem cells. The remaining cells are returned to the patient.

Appeal—Application for review of records, medical history, insurance claim.

Autologous transplant—The patient donates his/her own bone marrow or stem cells prior to treatment for reinfusion later after high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation.

Bone marrow—The spongy tissue found in the cavities of the body’s bones where all blood cells are produced.

Bone marrow harvest—The procedure of collecting stem cells from the bone marrow.

Bone marrow transplant (BMT)—A procedure developed to treat some forms of cancer and other diseases. There are several types of BMT’s, depending on who donates the marrow (see Autologous, Allogeneic, and Syngeneic). Stem cells are removed from the bone marrow for transplant.

Cancer cells—Uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancer cells can grow, divide, and invade normal tissue in the body.

Cell—The basic building block of life. In your blood, you will find many different types of these.

Central line or central venous catheter—A small, plastic tube inserted in a large vein to inject or remove fluids. The central line used in stem cell transplant allows blood samples to be drawn, drugs to be given, and the actual transplant to occur with little discomfort.

Chemotherapy—Treatment with one or more anticancer drugs to try to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells.

Clinical trials—Long-term research studies that test cancer treatment.

Colony stimulating factor—The drug given to autologous stem cell transplant patients before and during the harvest to increase the number of stem cells in the blood. It is also given to allogeneic donors to increase the number of cells in the circulating blood so they can be collected for transplant. Also called growth factor.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)—A blood test done in a laboratory to find out the number of red blood cells (RBC’s), white blood cells (WBC’s), platelets, hemoglobin, and hematocrit in your blood. These blood cells are made in the marrow of your bones.

Conditioning—A phase in the bone marrow/stem cell transplant process designed to destroy cancer cells more chemotherapy. Conditioning involves combining high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation.

Cord blood—Blood found in the umbilical cord.

Cord blood transplant—A procedure where umbilical blood stem cells are used in a stem cell transplant.

CT (Confirmatory Typing)—This test confirms the HLA compatibility of the donor and the patient and is performed on all potential family or unrelated donors. DNA—One of the nucleic acids found in the nucleus of the cell. It contains the information that allows a cell to grow and divide and become a unique (or particular type of) cell.

Engraftment—Process in which transplanted stem cells begin to grow in the recipient’s bone marrow and produce new white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.

Erythrocytes—Red blood cells that carry oxygen.

Genes—Found in the nucleus of the cell. They contain the hereditary information that is passed on from cell to cell. Graft failure—Complication after a transplant in which the stem cells do not grow in the recipient’s bone marrow and do not produce new white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.

Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)—A condition where transplanted stem cells may react against the patient’s body. Symptoms may range from a minor skin rash to more serious problems resulting in lifethreatening conditions.

Growth factor—(see Colony stimulating factor)

Harvest—(see Stem cell retrieval)

Hematocrit—The proportion of the blood that consists of packed red blood cells.

Hematologist—A doctor who specializes in the diseases of the blood.

Hematopoietic stem cells—Cells that mature into one of three types of blood cells: white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets.

Hemoglobin—The part of the red blood cell which carries oxygen.

HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen)— Antigens found on a person’s cells that help the body to identify its own cells from invading or foreign cells.

HLA typing—The identification of a person’s key antigens used for identifying compatible donors.

Immune compromised—A condition in which the patient has a much higher risk of infection due to a weak immune system.

Immune system—The group of organs and cells in the body that fight infection and other diseases.

Immunosuppressed—Lowered resistance to disease. It may be a temporary condition caused by a lowered white blood cell count or a side effect of receiving chemotherapy.

Informed consent—Hospital form, signed by the patient, which documents an understanding of medical procedures.

Infusion—Slow introduction of fluid into a vein referred to as an IV (intravenous).

Intravenous—Within a vein; into the vein.

Leukocytes—White blood cells that fight infection.

Lymphocytes—A type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system.

Metastasis—The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.

Mobilization—Moving more stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood stream through chemotherapy and/or a growth factor.

MUD—Matched unrelated donor.

Oncologist—A doctor who specializes in the study and treatment of cancer.

Patient advocate—A person who acts in the best interest of the patient or serves the patient’s needs and may act on his/her behalf.

Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC)— Stem cells that circulate in the blood.

Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant— Stem cells are removed from the blood and infused after high-dose chemotherapy. This can be done for both autologous and allogeneic transplants.

Platelets—Blood cells that act as clotting agents to prevent bleeding.

Prognosis—The predicted or likely outcome.

Protocol—A specifically designed treatment plan.

Purging—The process of removing certain types of cells from the stem cell product before transplanting it to a patient. In autologous transplants, marrow may be purged of lingering cancer cells.

Radiation—Treatment to kill cancer cells using high-energy rays from x-rays, electron beams, or radioactive isotopes.

Red blood cells (RBC)—Cells carrying oxygen to all parts of the body (erythrocytes).

Reimbursement—Refund, being paid back for monies used out of pocket.

Reinfusion—The return of healthy stem cells into the transplant recipient’s body.

Relapse—The return of cancer after a period of being cancer-free.

Remission—Complete or partial disappearance of cancer cells and symptoms.

Rescue process—Another term for a stem cell transplant. The re-infusion of healthy stem cells following high doses of chemotherapy or radiation.

Staging—The process of determining and describing the extent of the cancer.

Stem cell—The “parent cell.” Every type of blood cell in the body begins its life as a stem cell. The stem cells then divide and form the different cells that make up the blood and immune system. Stem cells are found in both the bone marrow and circulating blood.

Stem cell retrieval—The process of collecting stem cells from the circulating blood stream following administration of growth factors to increase their numbers. (Also called harvest).

Stem cell transplant—(see Peripheral blood stem cell transplant).

Syngeneic transplant—The person donating the bone marrow or stem cells is an identical twin.

Thrombocytopenia—Low platelet count.

Transfusion—The transferring of blood or blood products directly into a vein or artery.

White blood cells (WBC)—Cells that help fight infection and disease (leukocytes).

Back to Resource Guide Main page

Table of Contents



Understanding the Process

Preparations for the Transplant

The Transplant

Pediatric Transplants

Emotional Considerations

The Role of Caregiver

Selecting a Caregiver



Financial Aid



Resource Listing




  About nmbtLINK | Common Questions | Resources and Support | News and Events
Make a Contribution | Web Links | nbmtLINK Online Library | nbmtLINK Webcasts
  | E-mail