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Bone Marrow Transplant

Patients & Caregivers

A common treatment  in oncology care is bone marrow transplant (BMT). In this treatment, a patient with cancer has their bone marrow replaced with healthy cells from a donor, often called a graft, so that it no longer contains cancer cells and is able to fight cancer.

BMT is not an easy treatment and is usually for those who have already gone through chemotherapy. 

The following types of cancer are most responsive to BMT:

  • Leukemia: cancer of the white blood cells that are typically used in fighting infection

  • Lymphoma: cancer of the body’s germ fighting network


Patients about to receive BMT receive medication to decrease their immune system. Because of this, any infection, including oral infection, that has been worsening as chronic, may become acute. A full study of the mouth and treatment to address possible sources of infection before BMT is important.  Patients may be placed on life-long medication after bone marrow transplant.


In the tissue sample are cells with immune system features. These may interact with cells of the host and result in tissue changes. This is called graft-versus host disease or GVHD. GVHD lasts for a long time, and may affect oral tissues, such as mucosa, muscle and saliva. 


Following bone marrow transplant, routine preventive oral care can be continued to maximize oral health. While less common, secondary cancers may occur which means a detailed exam of the mouth should be performed at each visit.

For more information about bone marrow transplant and oral health, see these resources:


You may also wish to learn about:

More information regarding the following topics will be coming soon:

  • Importance of Good Oral Health Before, During, and After Cancer Care

  • Dental Care and Home Care Before, During, and After Treatment


The information on the Rhode Island Cancer and Oral Health Resource Guide, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other external materials are for informational purposes only. The Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island does not provide medical advice. The information on this website is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

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