Late and long-Term Complications after a Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplant

Learn about complications that can occur months or years after transplant and how to manage them.

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Some side effects of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant are not apparent until several months, or even years after treatment. Some early complications can persist long-term

Common late complications and those that begin shortly after transplant and can persist long-term include:

  • chronic graft-versus-host disease (if you were transplanted with cells from a donor) 
  • cognitive challenges (learning, memory and attention problems)
  • chronic fatigue
  • insomnia
  • sexual difficulties
  • infertility
  • cataracts

Less frequently, patients experience

  • secondary cancers
  • breathing problems
  • neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • dental problems
  • muscular or skeletal problems
  • osteoporosis
  • heart problems

No one experiences all of these complications. Your risk for developing problems after transplant will depend on your disease, type of transplant you had, your age and prior treatment history. Many complications are preventable with proper screening, preventive measures and lifestyle changes.

​Watch a video about complications that can arise long-term after a transplant with donor cells (an allogeneic transplant).

Watch a video about complications that can arise long-term after a transplant using your own cells (an autologous transplant).

Learn about additional late complications that can arise after a child has a bone marrow, stem cell or cord blood transplant.

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Updated August, 2023