High-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation involves the administration of high doses of anti-cancer drugs and/or radiation therapy for the purpose of killing cancer cells, followed by the infusion of stem cells to “rescue” or restore bone marrow blood cell production. It is important to understand that high-dose chemotherapy is the treatment for your cancer and damage to the bone marrow is a side effect. Fortunately, the bone marrow can be “rescued” or replaced with stem cells. For autologous stem cell transplantation, stem cells are collected from the patient before high-dose chemotherapy is delivered. The stem cells are collected form the bone marrow or peripheral blood, processed, frozen and stored. Since these cells are collected from the patient, they are referred to as autologous stem cells and the term autologous stem cell transplantation refers to either bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation.
High-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation is a component of an overall treatment strategy utilized to treat many types of cancer. High-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation may be appropriately utilized as the initial or subsequent treatment depending on the type of cancer. It is not a treatment of last resort and the role of stem cell transplantation in the management of a specific cancer should be carefully planned following an initial diagnosis of cancer. To learn more about autologous stem cell transplantation and the role it may play in the treatment of your cancer, select one of the following: