Stem cell transplantation for multiple myeloma
A stem cell transplant can be used to treat multiple myeloma by restoring bone marrow with healthy cells, which help stimulate new bone marrow growth and restore the immune system. Typically, individuals with advanced stage multiple myeloma who are under 70 years old and in otherwise good health are candidates for a stem cell transplant.
Before a stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma, you will undergo a conditioning regimen, which involves intensive treatment to destroy as many myeloma cells as possible. You may receive high doses of chemotherapy and, in some cases, radiation therapy. Once this preparative regimen is complete, you are ready to undergo the transplant.
Much like a blood transfusion, you will receive the stem cells intravenously. The procedure takes about an hour. After entering the bloodstream, the stem cells travel to the bone marrow and start to make new blood cells in a process known as engraftment.
In the months following the transplant, your care team will monitor your blood counts. You may need transfusions of red blood cells and platelets. Sometimes, the intensive treatments you receive before the stem cell transplantation for multiple myeloma can cause side effects, like infection. In this case, your doctor may administer IV antibiotics.
If you had an allogeneic stem cell transplant, your doctor may prescribe certain drugs to reduce the risk of graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), a condition where the donated cells attack the patient's tissues.
Helping you maintain your quality of life after a transplant
Recovery from a multiple myeloma stem cell transplant can take several months. Your hematologic oncology team will work together with the rest of your care team to support you throughout the entire process.
For example, our dietitians may recommend a healthy diet to nutritionally fortify your body, and our naturopathic clinicians may suggest natural therapies to help reduce side effects, such as neuropathy. Our rehabilitation therapist may recommend safe levels of physical activity to help you stay active and independent.
Additionally, our pain management practitioners may use various techniques to help alleviate discomfort and control bone and neuropathic pain, while your mind-body therapist may provide counseling and relaxation techniques.