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Long-term effects common after BMT in childhood

40% of children have effects 10 years later; treatments available

Age0 - 18
Number of Participants1,260
Research GoalImprove Quality of LifeImprove Survival
About 4 out of every 10 children who get blood or marrow transplant (BMT) have effects 10 years later. That’s news from a study of about 1,300 children who got BMT during 2000-2010. On average, the children got BMT around ages 8-10 to treat leukemia or other blood cancers. 

About 10 years after BMT, doctors looked for: 
  • New cancers 
  • Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) 
  • Other problems 

Few, or about 3 or 4 out of 100 children, got a new cancer, most often a skin cancer. cGVHD was more common. About 40 of 100 children got cGVHD, which can affect many body parts: skin, digestive system, and more. cGVHD can be serious, but it can be treated with medicines. 

However, the study began before doctors started using the medicine cyclophosphamide to prevent GVHD. So rates of GVHD may be lower now. 

About 10 years after BMT, children who got cGVHD were more likely to stay cancer-free. Mild cGVHD can fight cancer cells. However, children who got cGVHD were also more likely to have kidney problems. 

Children who got total body irradiation before BMT were more likely to have side effects later. 

Other less common late effects included slowed growth and effects on the bones, circulation, genitals, heart, liver, lungs and pancreas. After BMT, it’s important to get 6-month and yearly checkups to spot or prevent these problems. 

Ask your doctor 

Before BMT: What preparations for BMT are the best for me? Do I need total body irradiation

After BMT: What medicines or options do I have to prevent graftversus-host disease? What things should I watch for?