Every person and every cancer is different, so it simply can’t be said that one particular treatment is the definitive cure for a certain type of cancer. With that said, however, a stem cell transplant is a commonly used treatment for multiple myeloma, and in many cases it is successful in eliminating a patient’s cancer.
How does a stem cell transplant work?
Multiple myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells, which are found in the bone marrow. Because chemotherapy and radiation therapy destroy the stem cells that create new blood and plasma cells, a stem cell transplant is done to replace the destroyed stem cells with new, healthy ones. A patient will typically first receive high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy ahead of the procedure to increase the chances of fully eliminating the unhealthy cells. Then, the healthy stem cells are delivered into the patient’s blood through infusion.
There are two types of stem cell transplants – autologous and allogeneic. With an autologous transplant, the healthy stem cells are taken from the patient’s own body. On the other hand, an allogeneic transplant requires a donor. An autologous stem cell transplant is more common for treating multiple myeloma.
How effective is stem cell transplantation?
In the treatment of multiple myeloma, stem cell transplants have been shown to lengthen patients’ remission period. The complication rate for autologous transplants is far lower than for allogeneic transplants – 5 percent or less. As with any cancer treatment, there is always a chance of recurrence, but it is possible for a stem cell transplant to effectively eliminate a patient’s cancer.
"Myeloma Transplant in combination with maintenance therapy prolongs the amount of time the disease is under control and helps achieve the deepest upfront response."- Brandon Blue, MD
If you would like more information about multiple myeloma treatment and stem cell transplantation, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. A referral is not required to consult with our oncologists specializing in multiple myeloma.