Questions to Ask Before Having a Blood or Marrow Stem Cell Transplant

Questions to Ask Before Having a Blood or Marrow Stem Cell Transplant

Reviewed by Jasper Clinical Board

Last updated 5/24/21

If your doctor has recommended a stem cell transplant as part of your treatment plan, you’ll likely have questions about what’s ahead. From clarifying terminology to going through the timeline of upcoming events, this is an important part of the process, helping you and your caregivers to work as a team to further your health. To get you started, here are some questions you might ask. Know that it’s perfectly okay to bring a pen and paper to take notes, to record the conversation, or to bring a companion into the meeting to help you listen, take notes, and gather more information. In addition, always feel free to ask for clarification on terms you don’t understand.
  1. Will I be having an autologous (own stem cells) or allogeneic (donor stem cells) transplant?
  2. Which chemotherapy and other medications will I be receiving as part of my conditioning (pre-transplant) regimen?
  3. Will I receive myeloablative or non-myeloablative conditioning, and can you explain what that means for me?
  4. What should I expect in terms of the hospital experience? How long should I expect to be in the hospital? What kinds of sights, sounds, and smells should I expect to experience there?
  5. What is the plan if the stem cells do not engraft?
  6. What is the plan if my cancer relapses despite having the transplant?
  7. What is Graft-Versus-Host Disease and how likely am I to experience it? What signs and symptoms should I watch out for with regards to this complication?
  8. What complications can arise from the transplant and how will we manage them?
  9. How long do I need to plan to remain within a certain distance of the transplant center?
  10. How long do I need to plan to have a 24/7 caregiver available to me? What will my caregiver need to help me with?
  11. Under what circumstances should I call your office after I return home?
  12. Under what circumstances should I go to the emergency room after I am discharged from the hospital?
  13. How often will I return for follow up visits, and for how long?
  14. How and where can I get mental health care? 
  15. What are some ways you suggest patients get help coping emotionally with transplant?
  16. Will I need to eat a special diet or take special precautions around food during and after transplant? How do I get an appointment with a registered dietitian?

The content on this website is intended to provide the best possible information for you, but should not be considered—or used as a substitute for—medical advice. If you have questions about your diagnosis or treatment, please contact your health care provider(s). For questions or comments about this content, please email us at