Stem Cell Treatments for Cancer

There are so many types of cancer in existence that one article cannot possibly cover the potential stem cell treatments for cancer available for all of them. Brain tumors for example are usually fast growing, which does not give much time for stem cell therapy to work. However, simply because some cancers are more difficult to treat then others this does not mean that doctors or researchers have given up the fight to find treatments and cures.

Leukemia is one form of cancer that can be cured with the assistance of stem cell transplants. Leukemia is a cancer that starts in blood forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of blood cells to be reproduced and enter the bloodstream. It is cancer of the white blood cells or leukocytes. When leukocytes become cancerous they cannot fight off infection.

Chemotherapy sometimes combined with radiation is used to kill off the cancerous blood cell. Unfortunately chemotherapy is not always effective in destroying all of the abnormal cells. In cases such as this, bone marrow or stem cell transplants are used to replace the patient’s bone marrow with that of a healthy, matching donor.

Metastatic cancers are cancers that have spread through many different places in the body. Normally these cancer patients have less treatment options available to them because they are physically unable to tolerate the doses of treatment they need to kill the tumors. Researchers at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital have discovered a method called modified neural stem cells which they hope will treat metastatic cancers more effectively.

This process activates and concentrates chemotherapeutic drugs directly at the tumor sites. Concentrating the drugs at the tumor site allows the surrounding normal tissue to remain relatively unharmed. The belief is that this approach can not only improve future treatment options but also the quality of life by minimizing toxic side effects for patients with metastatic cancers.

There are different types of stem cell treatments used for different types of cancer. The two most common methods used are bone marrow transplantation and peripheral blood stem cell transplantations. Both procedures use stem cells to restore the ones that have been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Most are considered autologous stem cell rescue.

Although doctors performed the first successful bone marrow transplant was back in 1968, however since that time stem cell research has made significant strides and has become much more commonplace. To the recipient, there is nothing common about a stem cell transplant but in the medical world they have become more routine. Doctors have also learned that treating the whole person rather than just the disease gives the patient a much better rate of survival.

Today cancer treatment centers use a combination of stem cell therapy, medication, nutrition programs, spiritual, emotional and mental health support all tailor fit for the patient rather than the one-size fits all treatment plans once so popular.

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