Anthony Nolan patient

Stem cell transplant complications

Unfortunately, having a stem cell transplant can lead to issues that could have an impact on your life and future plans.

Although it’s difficult to think about them at such a stressful time, they should be addressed early so you can be prepared. These issues might not affect you, but it’s important to get the information and support you need just in case. Talk things through with your partner, family and friends, especially if you’re feeling anxious.

You can discuss all your options with your transplant team before you make any possible decisions. You can also ask to be referred to a psychologist or counsellor if you feel you need extra emotional or mental support. For more information on organisations that offer support and how you can access them yourself, please visit our getting some extra help section.


Your fertility can be affected by having a stem cell transplant. It's important to talk to your medical team about this as soon as possible, whether you know if you want children after transplant or not.

If you have already had your stem cell transplant, you can still talk to your medical team about your fertility options.

You can read more about how a stem cell transplant can affect fertility on our webpage.

Early menopause

If you are biologically female, you may experience early menopause after having a stem cell transplant.

This can be challenging, but there are lots of support networks for you, including Daisy Network.

You can read more about early menopause and stem cell transplant on our fertility webpage.

Stem cell transplant success rates

Transplant success rates vary widely depending on several factors. These include the patient’s age, the blood cancer or blood disorder they have, the type of transplant and their general health prior to transplant.

However, due to improved treatments and better understanding of what makes a good match, patients are generally living for longer and are able to cope better with side effects such as GvHD.

If you would like to know more about how this could affect your own circumstances, please talk to your medical team. They will be able to give you the most accurate information about your own situation.

Secondary cancers

What is likely to happen: Stem cell transplant patients have a higher risk of developing a secondary cancer later in life. This is due to the chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other possible treatments you may have needed.

What should happen: If you are a woman, it’s recommended that you are screened for breast cancer more regularly than women of a similar age. The guidelines are different in different areas of the UK, so talk to your medical team if you have any concerns.

Current UK guidelines recommend that transplant patients are screened as regularly as people of the same age for other cancers (cervical and colon). So it’s important that you attend all screening appointments.

What could happen: Just because there is an increased risk of a secondary cancer developing, it doesn’t mean that it will happen. As with all cancers, treatment is more likely to be successful if the cancer is diagnosed early. So it’s important to check your body regularly and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.   

Further Support: More information on screening programmes is available from the NHS and Cancer Research UK.

Financial concerns

A stem cell transplant can lead to unexpected costs. Your transplant will likely lead to a period of time when you cannot work, for example, and the cost of travelling to and from your vital hospital appointments may become substantial over time.

  • Our Help With Your Finances page will help you to plan for this change. It also includes suggestions for support to help address financial problems that may arise.
  • Anthony Nolan offers a grants service for anyone who has had, or is due to have, a stem cell transplant. Further information can be found on our Anthony Nolan Grant page.
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