Stem cells divide and mature into the different cell types that make up our blood. This includes red blood cells (for carrying oxygen), platelets (to help blood clot) and white blood cells (for fighting infections). If you have a blood disorder, it’s likely that there is a problem with a stage in this process. This means that some of the cells in your blood cannot properly perform the job they are designed to do.
Many of these problems occur because of a faulty gene that was inherited at birth. However others, such as myelodysplastic syndromes and autoimmune diseases, are not inherited and can occur without an obvious reason.
There are lots of different blood disorders and they are treated in different ways depending on their type and severity. A few of them can develop into blood cancers over time. Only some people with blood disorders will need a stem cell transplant – usually only if other treatments have been unsuccessful.
Some of the more common blood disorders that might need a stem cell transplant are listed below. Each section provides additional information and links to organisations that offer advice and support.
The Treatment Options section looks at other possible ways that your medical team may decide to treat your cancer – either before or instead of a stem cell transplant.
Anthony Nolan also supports the IMPACT partnership that co-ordinates clinical trials across the UK that focus on improving stem cell transplantation. See the IMPACT website for more details.