Multiple Myeloma an incurable disease, but I have spent the last 25 years in remission using a blend of conventional oncology and evidence-based nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle therapies from peer-reviewed studies that your oncologist probably hasn't told you about.
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A stem cell transplant is part of the standard-of-care therapy plan for all newly diagnosed myeloma patients. As I outlined in my explanation of the prognosis for multiple myeloma, the therapy plan is:
Whether or not you are eligible for a stem cell transplant depends on your overall health, multiple myeloma staging, and the multiple myeloma diagnostic criteria you meet — including blood and imaging tests.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is the transplantation of multipotent hematopoietic stem cells, usually derived from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood. It is a medical procedure in the fields of hematology and oncology, most often performed for patients with certain cancers of the blood or bone marrow, such as multiple myeloma or leukemia. In these cases, the recipient’s immune system is usually destroyed with radiation or chemotherapy before the transplantation.
A Stem Cell Transplant is one of conventional oncology’s most aggressive procedures. It is also known for a lot more chemotherapy for the chance at a longer first remission. It is designed to kill more Multiple Myeloma cells, but patients must ensure more toxicity to do so, creating more organ damage. With more chemotherapy comes a higher risk of short, long-term and late-stage side effects.
It may be autologous (the patient’s own stem cells are used), allogeneic (the stem cells come from a donor) or syngeneic (from an identical twin). Different transplant therapies involve different risks and short, long-term and late stage side effects.
While a stem cell transplantation is a piece of the Standard-of-care therapy plan for the newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patient, numerous studies confirm that a stem cell transplant allows for a longer first remission (PFS) but not a longer length of life or overall survival.
And a stem cell transplant definitely increases your risk of short, long-term and late stage side effects.
The challenge that patients face is that an ASCT has real strengths and weaknesses. In order to make the best decision for you, you have to learn about these pros and cons as quickly as possible.
Big Picture — Try to think about your:
Specifics — Those questions apply to you in your particular situation. These questions apply to everyone:
The purpose of this post is to outline the intricacies of autologous stem cell transplantation in myeloma so that you, the patient, can learn about the many different challenges you face with or without undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant.
I’ve researched and writen about the big picture issues in the blog posts linked below.
Study after study concludes that an autologous stem cell transplant does one thing and one thing only. It may give the patient a longer first remission. And what it costs the patient is toxicity. An autologous stem cell transplant is lots more chemotherapy for the chance at a longer first remission. With more chemotherapy comes a higher risk of short, long-term and late stage side effects.
An autologous stem cell transplant is aggressive treatment. Yes, an ASCT will probably lead to a longer first remission. But I believe myeloma survivors should think beyond their first remission. I read about too many MM survivors who relapse after a couple, two, three years. And they’ve undergone a lot of toxicity in order to achieve those two or three years of first remission.
And toxicity leads to short, long-term and late stage side effects.
Are you considering an autologous stem cell transplant? What was your stage and symptoms when you were first diagnosed? How old are you? How is your health… beside your myeloma, I mean.
You should feel prepared when making decisions about a stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma. Learn more about using evidence-based therapies to your advantage today.
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Hang in there,