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Chronic Graft Versus Host Disease

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

GVHD can happen after you have a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. In GVHD, cells transplanted from a donor (the graft) attack your body (the host). This most commonly causes damage to your skin, mouth, liver, and eyes. Chronic GVHD usually happens 100 days or more after your transplant, but may happen sooner. It may begin as acute GVHD and become chronic.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • Eye drops can help treat dry eyes, eye pain, or eye infections.
  • Immunosuppressants and steroids help stop donor cells from attacking your body.
  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Antibiotics help prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Antifungals help prevent an infection caused by fungus.
  • IV fluids help treat or prevent dehydration. Electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and sodium, may be given with IV fluids.

Tests:

  • Blood tests check your blood cell levels, liver function, and give information about your overall health. Blood tests may also check for infection.
  • A urine test checks your kidney function.
  • A skin biopsy may be done. During a skin biopsy a sample of your skin is removed and sent to the lab for tests.
  • A liver biopsy may be done. During a liver biopsy a sample of your liver is removed and sent to the lab for tests.
  • An endoscopy is a procedure to check for ulcers in your esophagus or stomach. Healthcare providers use an endoscope to examine your esophagus and stomach. An endoscope is a bendable tube with a light and camera on the end. A small sample may be taken from your esophagus or stomach. It will be sent to the lab for tests.
  • A colonoscopy is a procedure to check for bleeding or ulcers in your intestines. Healthcare providers use a scope to examine your intestines. A scope is a bendable tube with light and a camera on the end. A small sample may be taken from your intestines and sent to the lab for tests.

Treatment:

  • IV nutrition or a feeding tube may be needed. A feeding tube goes through your nose or mouth and into your stomach. It can be used to give you nutrition and medicines.
  • Photophoresis is a procedure to help stop the donor cells from attacking your body. During photophoresis, some of your blood is removed and treated with ultraviolet (UV) light and medicine. After your blood is treated, it is returned to your body.

RISKS:

Medicines given to treat GVHD may increase your risk for infection. They may also increase your blood pressure. GVHD may cause permanent damage to your liver, lung, intestines, or other organs.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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