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Blood or marrow transplant usually becomes a treatment option when chemotherapy does not work well enough to create a complete remission, or when chemotherapy works for a while but the disease returns.

For many patients with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), chemotherapy alone may bring long-term remission. Remission means that tests cannot find any lymphoma cells and a patient is symptom-free. But for others, with more aggressive disease, or disease that returns after chemotherapy, a blood or marrow transplant may be the best option to achieve long-term remission. For patients with very aggressive or recurrent disease, getting a referral to a transplant doctor as soon as transplant becomes a possibility may offer the best route to a cure or long-term remission.

A blood or marrow transplant begins with chemotherapy, with or without radiation, to destroy the diseased cells and marrow. The transplant replaces diseased blood-forming cells with healthy ones. There are two types of transplants: allogeneic and autologous. An allogeneic transplant uses healthy blood-forming cells from a family member, unrelated donor, or umbilical cord blood. An autologous transplant uses the patient’s own blood-forming cells which are collected and stored.

Both types of transplants are used to treat NHL but autologous is more common. For aggressive NHLs, allogeneic transplant is usually used if chemotherapy does not work.

Understanding if transplant would help your NHL 

Our patient services coordinators can answer your questions and provide support and education to help you navigate your transplant journey.

Whether a transplant is right for you depends on several things, such as your age, overall health, stage of the disease, and how fast the disease is growing. A transplant doctor will weigh the risk of the disease coming back against getting a transplant. A transplant may cure NHL, but may also cause other problems.

There are medical guidelines for when someone should be referred for a transplant consultation, whether or not you might need a transplant at that time.

Talking to a transplant doctor is especially recommended if your disease has any of the following features: 

Follicular Lymphoma

  • Poor response to initial treatment
  • Initial remission lasting less than a year
  • Relapsing for a second time
  • If the follicular lymphoma turns into a more aggressive lymphoma

Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma

  • At first or next relapse
  • First complete remission for patients with high or high-intermediate risk
  • No complete remission with initial treatment

Mantle Cell Lymphoma

  • After initiation of therapy

Other High-Risk Lymphomas

  • After initiation of therapy

    Learn more about bone marrow transplants and access resources to help you navigate your transplant journey.

    Recommended Timing for Transplant Consultation. Guidelines developed jointly by National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match and the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT). Available at: