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Bone Marrow Transplantation Services at Drexel Cancer Care

Bone Marrow Transplant

Drexel Cancer Care's specialists work with the bone marrow transplant specialists at Hahnemann University Hospital, leaders in the use of bone marrow transplants (BMT) to treat certain types of solid tumors and blood diseases including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and myelodysplasia. Bone marrow transplants can also be used to replace blood cells that have been wiped out by high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, helping to restore a healthy immune system. Bone marrow may be donated in advance of the initial treatment by patients themselves, by a relative, or by someone with a matching tissue type.

The types of bone marrow transplants include:

  • Autologous – donor cells are taken from the patient and frozen for later use. The patient receives high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation as a part of the cancer therapy. This is a treatment that is frequently used for patients with Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma and some tumors.
  • Allogeneic transplant – new bone marrow cells come from a related or unrelated donor with a matching tissue type.
  • Haploidentical – this protocol for patients age 30 and younger is offered in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, and the National Cancer Institute. It makes bone marrow transplantation available to patients without a related or unrelated matched donor.
  • Mini-allogeneic – less intensive transplants that may be used for older patients or those with pre-existing health problems that rule out a standard bone marrow transplant.

What to Expect During Bone Marrow Transplantation

During bone marrow transplants, bone marrow—the spongy material in the hollow center of large bones that develops into blood cells and platelets—is withdrawn from the hip of a the patient or a donor (a relative or someone with a matching tissue type) using a needle. This is done under general anesthesia to reduce discomfort. The harvested bone marrow is delivered to the recipient intravenously. Once in the bloodstream, the new marrow travels to large bones such as the breast bone, skull, hip, ribs and spine. After several weeks, the donor bone marrow begins producing normal blood cells.

Bone Marrow Transplantation Recovery

Prior to and following bone marrow transplantation, the patient is highly vulnerable to infection and must remain hospitalized. Typically these patients receive care in a private hospital room that is equipped with a special air filtration system to reduce the chance of infection and enhance recovery.

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The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.

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