Successfully Treating Tumors
Treating tumors with bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplants is becoming an increasingly common practice. At Hospital Angeles Lomas we employ the technique to enable us to destroy all existing cancer cells and help the patient to grow new, healthy bone marrow. We also provide a free consultation for individuals and their loved ones so that they can discuss the viability of treating their disease with a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.
What is a Tumor?
A tumor is a mass of tissue caused by the abnormal division and multiplication of cells. They can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).
As cells in our bodies die, other cells divide to create new cells. This happens thousands of times a day, as our body makes new cells to replace damaged, dying or older cells. Our bone marrow can even sense a damaged area of the body and sends out extra stem cells to help repair it.
Sometimes we produce cells that keep reproducing, even when they don’t need to. Usually our body’s natural defence mechanism will recognize these cells and destroy them, but sometimes the cells are too strong or our immune system is too weak and the malfunctioning cells can’t be destroyed. The unneeded cells then continue to reproduce and form a solid mass.
Weaknesses in the immune system can cause tumors, as can environmental and genetic factors. These include smoking, exposure to certain chemicals and toxins, drinking too much alcohol, excessive exposure to sunlight, obesity and certain viruses.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The symptoms of a tumor, and the diagnostic tools used by a doctor, will depend on the nature and location of the tumor. Some cause no symptoms at all whilst others, such as pancreatic tumors, don’t usually show any symptoms until the disease is advanced. General symptoms include:
- Decreased appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
Depending on where the tumor is, you might see it (such as skin cancer) or feel a lump. Other tumors can’t be seen or felt as they are deep inside the body. When a tumor is found, a sample of it (known as a biopsy) will be taken and examined to see if it is malignant or benign. A scan will then show doctors where the tumor is and how far it has spread, whilst blood tests and bone marrow biopsies will tell the doctor how the tumor may be affecting bone marrow, blood and organ function.
Treatment for tumor will vary according to the type, location and stage of the growth. Most cancerous tumors are treated with chemotherapy, which is designed to kill fast-growing cells. As your body will contain more healthy cells than cancerous cells, chemotherapy and radiation treatment aim to kill all of the bad cells, allowing the healthy cells to reproduce once the treatment is completed. It is not always possible to kill all of the cancerous cells, however, so there is always a chance that the tumor can return after treatment (known as a relapse). Additionally, the chemotherapy treatment can cause lasting damage to the patient’s bone marrow, which makes the patient more likely to develop leukemia later in life.
Tumor and BMT
Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Treatment is being increasingly recognized as an effective treatment approach for solid tumors, such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer and breast cancer. Stem cells are taken from the patient’s blood and stored before the patient has a high-intensity course of chemotherapy that will destroy all of the cancer cells. The healthy cells are then reintroduced via the blood stream, allowing the patient to grow new, healthy bone marrow.
The ability to destroy all cells dramatically increases the patient’s chances of achieving remission and reduces their chances of relapsing, whilst the new healthy bone marrow stops the patient from developing bone marrow conditions, such as leukemia, as a result of the treatment.
Making a Decision
Finding a tumor is a scary time, especially when you have so much information to digest and so many treatment options available to you. It is important that you explore as many possibilities as possible and ask as many questions as you need to, so that you can find the best course of treatment for you. If you have any questions about how a bone marrow or stem cell transplant could help you then get in touch today for your free consultation from a medical professional.