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Months and even years after a successful bone marrow transplant, when patients in remission finally start to see their cancer nightmare fading away, the cure can turn against them.

Immune cells from the transplant donor view the patient’s body as foreign and start attacking tissues and organs. The cancer is gone, but now patients must deal with painful mouth sores, eyes that cannot produce tears, skin rashes, immobile joints and damaged organs. The debilitating condition is called chronic graft-versus-host disease, or GVHD, and can affect as many as half of bone marrow transplant patients.

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