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GVHD happens when the cells from your donor (the graft) see your body’s cells (the host) as different and attack them. There are medicines to help lower your risk of getting GVHD. But even with medicine, some people still get GVHD.

GVHD can range from mild to severe. Many patients will have some symptoms of GVHD after transplant.

Having some GVHD is not always bad. If your transplant was for a blood cancer, your doctor may see mild GVHD as a good thing. It’s a sign that the new cells are working to destroy any cancer cells that are still in your body. Patients who have some GVHD may have a lower risk of the cancer returning after transplant.

Types of GVHD:

  • Acute: Typically develops in the early weeks and months after transplant. It’s called Late Acute GVHD when it develops 3 or more months after transplant. 
  • Chronic: Typically develops within 1 year of transplant. It’s called Overlap Chronic GVHD when signs and symptoms of chronic and acute GVHD appear together. 


Learn about GVHD and its signs and symptoms.