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Stem cell advice

20 Oct 2019 00:42

Hi All 

My husband has AML he is currently under intensive chemo and we have just been told my husband has this DNA mutation gene that has developed within the leukemia that the cancer will just keep returning , 

And that his only chance now is to have a stem cell transplant,  

Can someone please tell me how long roughly do people have to wait for a suitable donor on the national donor register ? And what treatment is given before hand to keep the cancer at bay before a suitable donor is found , ?

I'm sure a person can only go so long on intensive chemo before drs would have to stop using this treatment if no donor is found as with damaging healthy organs , if so what would alternative options be if that was to happen , age is also against my husband which does not help , my life and my husband's has just been  destroyed and we don't have the option of refusing a stem cell transplant it's that or nothing we are so scared but need to know thank you xxx

Stem cell advice

21 Oct 2019 14:15 in response to Cath45

Hello and thanks for posting on the forum,

this must be a very stressful time for you both.  

When a patient has a stem cell transplant they receive high doses of chemotherapy and or radiotherapy beforehand.  This strong (high-intensity )treatment is called a 'conditioning therapy'. It can destroy the cancer cells and destroy your husbands bone marrow's ability to produce all other cells.  Without a transplant of new stem cells ,his bone marrow might not be able to recover.  Therefore after he has received the high-dose treatment, the stem cells are given to him to help him produce new blood cells.

I am not sure how long it takes to find a donor.  A lot will depend on when they find a suitable match and it is important that they find a match which is as similar as possible to avoid any complications.  We do have some information on our website about this subject which you can look at here.

Your husband's haematologist and haematology nurse are probably the best people to talk to about how his leukaemia is going to be treated. Everyone's leukaemia will be treated slightly differently.  The doctors will take in to account how well your husband is coping with the intensive chemotherapy treatment.

 I can understand that you are concerned with how long he will be able to cope with such intensive treatment but I am sorry I don't have an answer to this.  With your husband's permission do talk to his team. They will be mindful of his age and the importance of getting a donor as soon as possible. Do discuss with them your concerns about how long he will be having this intensive treatment for.  I am sure that he is being regularly monitored and they will know what his next steps are.

I hope that this has helped a bit.  Do give us a ring if you want to discuss any of this.  You may find it helpful to talk things through with one of the nurses on our helpline.  The number to call is Freephone 0808 800 4040 and the lines are open from 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday.

Best Wishes,

Catherine