What Is cGVHD?What Is cGVHD?

What Is cGVHD?

Understanding Chronic Graft Versus Host Disease

When you have been diagnosed with chronic graft versus host disease (cGVHD), it’s normal to feel overwhelmed emotionally and physically. Each cGVHD journey is different, so learning about why your body is reacting the way it is can help you feel more at ease. By focusing on what you can control, you and your caregiver can better manage your symptoms.


Graft versus host disease is a common complication after receiving a donor stem-cell or bone marrow transplantation. Sometimes, the graft doesn't recognize the host as being friendly. In fact, it sees your body as a "threat."1

There are two kinds of GVHD that may develop1:

  • Acute (typically happens earlier after transplant)
  • Chronic (typically occurs later after transplant) 

These two forms of GVHD differ in symptoms and treatment.

Chronic GVHD affects one or more organ systems, and it can continue over a long period of time. 

The role your immune system plays1

When your immune system is working normally, it helps to defend your body against harmful invaders like viruses or bacteria. This helps you stay healthy. But in cGVHD, the donor cells (graft) see your body as the threat, so they begin to attack and they recruit your immune system to help in the fight.

In cGVHD, the graft (transplant)
cells attack the host (your body)
cells using the immune system1

Reference: 1 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Graft-versus-host disease. Accessed August 18, 2023. https://www.lls.org/sites/default/files/2022-01/FS32_GVHD_FS_rev_12_21.pdf

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