Stem cells are unique cells that can develop into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. During cancer treatment chemotherapy and radiation dosages are limited to protect your body’s existing stem cells.
An autologous stem cell transplant removes your bone marrow stem cells so that you can be given larger doses of chemotherapy and radiation. Following therapy, your unharmed stem cells are returned or transplanted. Before the stem cell transplant begins you will be tested to make sure you are a good candidate for the procedure. Tests may include CT scans, EKG, bone marrow biopsy and blood tests.
It’s likely that you will continue to receive chemotherapy prior to collection of your bone marrow stem cells. Stem cells are collected in two ways – the primary method, called the mobilization method, involves collection of stem cells from the peripheral blood. You will first need to have an intravenous line called a central line, inserted into a vein in your chest. You will then receive medication to induce stem cells to leave the bone marrow and enter your bloodstream.
During collection you will be connected to an apheresis machine which removes stem cells from your blood via the central line. Several sessions are usually required to collect the nerve stem cells which are then frozen until the transplant takes place. The mobilization method may not provide enough stem cells. In this case, stem cells may be taken directly from your bone marrow.
Your physician will harvest the stem cells from your hipbones using special needles. The harvested stem cells are frozen until your transplant takes place. With your stem cells temporarily removed you can be given higher doses of chemotherapy and radiation. It may be necessary to wait one or two days following your last chemotherapy or radiation treatment before your stem cells are returned. The stem cells are thought and drawn into a syringe so that they can be administered through your central line.
In the first two weeks following the procedure your immune system will be compromised. Typically, you will need transfusions of platelets and red blood cells. During this time the stem cells begin producing new blood cells. You will be monitored closely to ensure your bone marrow and immune system, are functioning effectively.
In the two weeks following treatment you will be encouraged to stay in our guest quarters which provide a comfortable experience for both you and your loved ones, including private patient rooms and many of the amenities of home.
When you visit Cancer Treatment Centers of America you will consult a team of caring professionals who will listen to you, learn about your experiences, examine your medical history and then apply their collective knowledge for developing a treatment strategy just for you.
Your Cancer Treatment Centers of America team practices integrated medicine – a unique care philosophy that combines advanced stem cell transplant options with supportive therapies like nutritional support, mind-body medicine, physical therapy and spiritual support – all under one roof.
Explore your stem cell transplant options at Cancer Treatment Centers of America today. Call or click to chat with an oncology information specialist. Just schedule a consultation with your team’s compassionate professionals.