What is the Stem Cell Transplantation Process Following High-Dose Chemotherapy?
The stem cell transplantation process following high-dose chemotherapy is a complex procedure that involves several steps.
Induction Therapy (initial treatment): Several months of myeloma treatment is given first to reduce the amount of tumor present, in order to increase the chance of a successful transplant. These treatments may be the same as those given to patients who are not planning to undergo a transplant.
Stem Cell Collection: Following induction therapy, stem cells are obtained or harvested from a patient or donor. In most cases, patients’ own stem cells are used (autologous transplant).
Freezing and Storage: When a patient’s own stem cells are used, they are frozen and stored until needed.
High-Dose Chemotherapy: High doses of chemotherapy are given in order to eliminate as much disease as possible. High-dose chemotherapy can be given either immediately following stem cell collection or at a later date.
Consider Second Transplant or Consolidation Therapy, if M Protein Level greater than 90 % (Under Investigation): After the completion of high-dose chemotherapy, the stem cells are injected into the patient’s bloodstream. The stem cells travel to the bone marrow and begin to produce new blood cells, replacing the normal cells lost during high-dose chemotherapy.
Maintenance Therapy: Patients who do have a less than ideal response (less than a very good partial response) after high- dose chemotherapy and transplant may be considered for a second transplant or additional myeloma treatments (known as consolidation therapy) in order to further reduce the amount of tumor present.
Ongoing treatment with a myeloma drug may be considered, even for patients who are in complete remission, following the completion of high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant, with the goal of further reducing the chance of a relapse.