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After your marrow or stem cell harvest

Men and women discussing non Hodgkin's lymphoma

This page tells you about what happens after your stem cell or bone marrow collection for non Hodgkin lymphoma. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Having high dose chemotherapy

After your stem cell or bone marrow collection you have high dose chemotherapy to kill any non Hodgkin lymphoma cells that are left in your body. You may have radiotherapy as well as chemotherapy.

You have your chemotherapy through a central line. This means you don't need to have any injections. You can have other drugs through the tube, for example anti sickness drugs. And you can have blood taken from the central line for blood tests.

You have high dose chemotherapy over about 5 or 6 days. It depends which combination of drugs you have.

Having total body radiotherapy (TBI)

If you are going to have radiotherapy, you are most likely to have it just before the bone marrow or stem cells are given back to you. You lie on a hard couch or stand supported by a specially designed frame. You may have TBI treatments twice a day for 3 or 4 days, or as a single treatment. Positioning you each time may take up to half an hour. Then you have the radiotherapy treatment for 10 to 15 minutes on both sides of your body.

Having your stem cells back

After you have finished all your treatment, you have your stem (or bone marrow) cells back. They are given through a drip. The cells find their own way back into your bones and start to grow again. Soon they will make new blood cells for you.

After high dose treatment

When you have high dose chemotherapy you are at risk of picking up infections. You may have a single room in the hospital ward, to help protect you from infection. You stay in the single room until your bone marrow has started to make blood cells again and your blood counts have come up. This can take a few weeks. You can have visitors, but your nurses may suggest that you only have one or two each day.
 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating NHL section.

 

 

Having high dose chemotherapy

After your stem cell or bone marrow collection you will have high dose chemotherapy to kill any non Hodgkin lymphoma cells that are left in your body. You may have radiotherapy as well as chemotherapy.

You will have your chemotherapy through a tube put into a major vein in your chest (a central line). This means that you don't need to have any injections. You can have other drugs through the tube, for example anti sickness drugs. And you can also have blood taken from the line for blood tests.

You have high dose chemotherapy over about 5 or 6 days. It depends which combination of drugs you have.

 

Having total body radiotherapy

Whether you have radiotherapy depends on the particular treatment schedule you are having. If you have it, you are most likely to have it at the end of the treatment, just before the bone marrow or stem cells are given back to you. You have your whole body treated to help kill off any remaining lymphoma cells left behind after your chemotherapy. This is called whole body irradiation (WBI) or total body irradiation (TBI). 

Planning TBI

First you have a planning session of about 90 minutes to create the treatment plan. You lie on a hard couch or stand supported by a specially designed frame.

The radiographers measure the thickness of various parts of your body. They make sure the treatment couch or frame is in exactly the right position. During this session you have a very small dose of radiotherapy aimed at your body from a machine next to the treatment couch or frame. You have half your body treated for 10 to 15 minutes. Then you turn and have the other half treated.

Treatment sessions

You may have TBI twice a day for 3 or 4 days, or as a single treatment. For these sessions the radiographers help you to lie or stand in the correct position. This may take up to half an hour. Then you have treatment for 10 to 15 minutes on both sides of your body.

We have detailed information about total body irradiation (TBI).

 

Having your stem cells back

After you have finished all your treatment, you have your stem cells (or bone marrow) back. The stem cells are given through a drip, just like a blood transfusion.

Person having a transplant

The stem cells are dripped into your central line and into your bloodstream. They find their own way back into your bone marrow and start to grow again. Soon they will make new blood cells for you.

 

Being in isolation

After high dose treatment, you have low numbers of blood cells for some time. This means you are at risk of picking up infections. You may have a single room in the hospital ward, to help protect you from infection. You stay in the single room until your bone marrow has started to make blood cells again and your blood counts have come up. This can take a few weeks.

Some hospitals don't isolate patients having their own stem cells (autologous transplants) because the risk of infection is lower than after bone marrow transplant. If you are having donated marrow or stem cells (allogeneic transplant) you will usually be in isolation in a single room.

While you are in isolation you can have visitors, but your nurses may suggest that you only have one or two each day. Your friends and relatives should not come to see you if they are not well, or think they have been in contact with anyone with an infectious disease.

You will need to wash often and keep very clean. You will also need to follow a special diet in which you have foods that are not likely to give you an infection. 

We have detailed information about isolation and diets to reduce infection risk

 

After your transplant

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Updated: 26 September 2014