The long-term outcome of blood and marrow transplant patients is still unknown. It is known that some patients have survived 25 or more years post-transplant since stem cell transplantation became an option for treatment in the early 1970s.
Patients who receive total body irradiation have a risk of developing cataracts of the eye. Patients who receive total body irradiation and high dose chemotherapy will have premature ovarian and testicular failure and may need to receive hormone replacement therapy. Most patients are infertile after this treatment.
One of the most devastating complications of transplantation is to have your original disease recur, a problem seen almost exclusively in patients transplanted for malignant diseases. Despite the high dose chemotherapy with or without radiation, some particularly resistant cells may remain and return to cause clinical disease in several months to as long as several years later.
The highest risk is within the first two years after stem cell transplant and is higher in patients with more advanced disease at the time of transplantation.