Did you know there is more than one type of bone marrow transplant?

For example, there is an allogeneic bone marrow transplant. But what exactly is that?

We reached out to Preet M. Chaudary, MD, PhD of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at Keck Medicine of USC to get insights into the procedure.

An allogeneic transplant is a type of bone marrow transplant where the patient receives bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells from another person – from a donor. If you have myeloma or lymphoma, then it is a possibility for you to donate your own marrow.

Sometimes, donors can be family members. Other times, they are unrelated donors.

When the donors are related, they can be fully matched or one or more antigen mismatched.

When donors are unrelated, they are usually full matched to the patient. The potential behind finding a match depends on the racial and ethnic group of the patient.

What is the probability of finding a successful match?

A person from a large family with many siblings would have a high probability of finding a match. A sibling donor who is fully matched would be the preferred choice as a donor. Otherwise, a search for an unrelated donor starts. If the patient is of European descent, chances of finding a fully matched unrelated donor are high as compared to a situation in which the patient belongs to racial or ethnic minority or other mixed backgrounds. In situations where an ethnic minority or someone of a mixed background is looking for a match and does not have any fully matched relatives, the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center looks for alternative donors.

Does the donor need to be a full match?

A common alternative donor to a full match is what is called a haploidentical donor. For a successful haploidentical-transplant, a donor only has to be half matched to the patient. Usually, this is a family member like a brother, sister, father,mother, son or a daughter.

What are the potential complications?

Sometimes allogeneic bone marrow transplants cause something called graft versus host disease. Graft versus host disease is a process in which the donor cells recognize the patient’s body as foreign and start attacking it. This sometimes manifests as a form of a rash, liver dysfunction, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and other GI symptoms.

To manage these symptoms, immunosuppressant drugs are used.

Why USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center?

According to the data from bethematch.org, out of all adult bone marrow transplant facilities that have done at least ten allogeneic bone marrow transplants, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center has the highest one-year survival rates in California and the fifth highest in the country.

The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine of USC is able to achieve this because of a few key factors:

1. Experience.

Being in a racially diverse melting pot like Los Angeles gives the USC Norris team considerable experience within haplo-transplants. That allows us to serve a niche within a niche in allogeneic bone marrow transplants.

2. Team approach.

Bone marrow transplant is a team approach. Over the years, we have developed a strong team of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, coordinators, social workers and an entire team to make sure the process of a bone marrow transplant is as smooth as possible.

3. Academic medical center.

Being an academic medical center means we are not only experts within bone marrow transplants but across all other disciplines. Bone marrow transplant patients often encounter other complications, such as liver or lung problems. With USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, if any other complications do arise, our experts will take care of you.

4. Comprehensive cancer center.

Being a comprehensive cancer center means we are not only experts in bone marrow transplant, but have expertise in other areas of cancer as well. That means if any other complications arise, we will be able to take care of you.

5. Center of Excellence.

To get the Center of Excellence designation, we have to meet certain quality outcome measures. Due to a combination of all the factors above, we are a Center of Excellence for a large number of providers and insurance companies, which speaks to the quality of our program.

To learn more about our bone marrow transplant programs, visit http://cancer.keckmedicine.org/patients/cancer-programs/blood-diseases-center/.

To schedule an appointment, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit http://cancer.keckmedicine.org/patients/request-an-appointment/.