Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation
Autologous stem cell transplants refer to stem cells that are collected from a patient and given back to that same individual. Autologous transplants are by far the most common type of transplant performed in myeloma patients today. With this type of transplant, the patient's stem cells are obtained prior to high-dose chemotherapy, frozen, and stored if necessary, and are then given back to the patient after high-dose of chemotherapy.
Who is a Candidate?
High-dose chemotherapy and Autologous stem cell transplant is a treatment option for both patients with newly diagnosed disease and for those who have already received other treatments. High-dose chemotherapy and Autologous transplant is considered by many to be a standard of care for healthy patients.
In general, patients with good performance status, adequate kidney function and minimal comorbidity are eligible.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Autologous stem cell transplants have several advantages over other types of transplants:
- The patient serves as his or her own source of stem cells: there is no need to find a donor and there is no risk of incompatibility.
- Autologous transplants are relatively safe procedures: low rates of complications and infections compared with Allogeneic transplants.
- In some instances, much of the procedure can be done on an outpatient basis.
Autologous transplants may not be an option for some patients. In certain instances, prior treatment with certain chemotherapy drugs or with radiation therapy to the spine or pelvis may reduce the number of stem cells that can be collected for an Autologous transplant.