By Kay Quinn Healthbeat Reporter
St. Louis (KSDK) - Every year, 15,000 people are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases that call for a bone marrow transplant.
But how successful are they?
That's the subject of this week's 8 Ways to Prevent Cancer segment.
They're becoming much more common. Bone marrow drives where people are asked to put their name on a list to become a potential bone marrow donor. But how well do transplants work at saving lives?
"Their success varies on the risk of the patient themselves, the disease the patient has," said Dr. John di Persio with the Siteman Cancer Center.
Also whether they're disease is in remission, and how closely the donor and recipients tissue types match.
DreNeria Westbrook, an 18-year-old Seckman High School student, is battling a rare form of Leukemia. No one in her family is a suitable donor, so she's hoping to find a match on the bone marrow registry.
Patients get the bone marrow through an IV.
"If someone has a low grade malignancy or non malignant disease and they have a matched sib the success rate can be 70 to 80 percent depending upon the age of the patient," said Dr. di Persio.
If a patient is older or has a mismatched donor, the success rate can be 20 to 30 percent.
Transplants are used to treat a number of illnesses from cancer to immune system diseases. Any situation where diseased blood-forming cells can be replaced with healthy ones.
"When we decide to do a bone marrow transplant we only decide based on the fact that we think we have a chance to cure the patient," said di Persio.