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Quality of life following hematopoietic cell transplantation

Robert S Negrin, MD
Section Editor
Nelson J Chao, MD
Deputy Editor
Alan G Rosmarin, MD


Although difficult to define precisely, quality of life (QOL) has an inherent meaning to most people. It is comprised of broad concepts that affect global life satisfaction, including good health, adequate housing, employment, personal and family safety, interrelationships, education, and leisure pursuits. For matters related to health care, the term QOL has been applied specifically to those life concerns that are most affected by health or illness. Patients contemplating hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), like any other major medical intervention, often question what the quality of their lives will be following the procedure. The success of HCT has resulted in a large number of patients becoming long term survivors, bringing the issue of QOL to the forefront [1-4].

Clearly, the long-term effects of HCT, and the attendant QOL of long-term survivors, are due to the complete treatment program (table 1), not just to the transplant itself. (See "Preparative regimens for hematopoietic cell transplantation" and "Hematopoietic support after hematopoietic cell transplantation" and "Treatment of chronic graft-versus-host disease".)

This topic review will discuss the general issue of QOL in HCT donors, survivors of HCT, and their caregivers [5]. Complication- or disease-specific long-term issues, such as the development of malignancy following HCT and care of the long term survivor, are discussed separately. (See "The approach to hematopoietic cell transplantation survivorship" and "Malignancy after hematopoietic cell transplantation" and "Thalassemia: Management after hematopoietic cell transplantation" and "Hematopoietic cell transplantation for aplastic anemia in adults", section on 'Late malignancy' and "Hematopoietic cell transplantation for aplastic anemia in adults", section on 'Survival and quality of life'.)

A general review of QOL, which includes its assessment in patients with medical illness and emphasizing malignant disease, is presented separately. (See "Evaluation of health-related quality of life (HRQL) in patients with a serious life-threatening illness".)


QOL among patients who have undergone autologous HCT is generally excellent. The lack of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in this setting and the observation that the major cause of morbidity and mortality beyond the first several months following the transplant is relapse of the underlying disease, means that the majority of long-term survivors enjoy an outstanding QOL.

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Literature review current through: Sep 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 26, 2016.
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