Other Treatments for Multiple Myeloma
by Debra Wood, RN
Peripheral Stem Cell Transplant
Resistent, recurring, or advanced multiple myeloma can significantly reduce the number of healthy blood cells in the marrow. Chemo- and/or radiation therapy treatment can destroy the healthy cells in the bone marrow. The loss of these cells will reduce the immune system's ability to fight infections or disease and lead to life-threatening infections.
A peripheral stem cell transplant uses healthy stem cells (immature, unformed cells) from the circulating blood in your body or a donor to restore normal blood cell function. The cells travel to bone marrow sites throughout the body and slowly repopulate numbers of red or white blood cells, or platelets. If the transplant is successful, the newly injected cells should be free of cancer and capable of producing healthy cells.
In most cases, a peripheral stem cell transplant is autologous, that is the healthy stem cells are harvested from the patient's own body. They are extracted from circulating blood. Circulating blood removed from the body is spun in a machine to separate the components in a process called apheresis. The blood is then circulated back into the body. The stem cells are frozen until all malignant myeloma cells are eliminated by chemo- or radiation therapy. Lastly, the healthy stem cells are returned to the body to repopulate the blood cell count.
Allogeneic, or stem cells from a donor, are generally not used to treat multiple myeloma. However, they may be considered for those participating in clinical trials.
Multiple myeloma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116888/Multiple-myeloma. Updated November 21, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Multiple myeloma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated September 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/treating/stem-cell-transplant.html. Updated January 19, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/13/2016
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