What is the role of autologous stem cell transplantation in the treatment of multiple myeloma (MM)?

Updated: Jul 15, 2019
  • Author: Dhaval Shah, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Using the patient’s own (ie, autologous) bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells facilitates more intense therapy for MM. After harvesting the stem cells from the patient, physicians can use otherwise lethal doses of total body irradiation and chemotherapy and then “rescue” the patient by reinfusing the harvested cells. This process of myeloablative therapy, followed by the reinfusion of stem cells, is termed autologous stem cell transplantation.

This sequence of therapy allows physicians to use melphalan at an approximately 10-20 times higher dose than is used in standard therapy. [44] In autologous transplantation, the reinfused stem cells or bone marrow act as a support to the patient but do not offer additional anticancer effects.


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