Childhood Cancer

Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Chapter 14: Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation

The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of the final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.

— John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Profiles in Courage

PERIPHERAL BLOOD STEM CELL TRANSPLANTATION (PBSCT) is a complicated procedure used to treat some cancers and blood diseases that were once considered incurable. In this procedure, stem cells in the blood are collected and then children are given high-dose chemotherapy. After the chemotherapy, the stem cells that were collected earlier are infused into the child’s veins. The stem cells migrate to the cavities inside the bones where new, healthy blood cells are then produced.

Stem cell transplants are expensive, technically complex, and potentially life-threatening. Understanding the procedure and its ramifications at a time of crisis can be tremendously difficult. This chapter explains the type of PBSCT currently used to treat a small number of children with brain and spinal cord tumors, and it shares the experiences of several families.