YOUR GUIDE TO CELLULAR THERAPY
Restoring the body’s ability to form healthy blood cells.
To learn more about our program please call 503-413-7194.
How cellular therapy works
Cellular therapy involves stem cell transplantation to restore crucial blood-forming cells that grow into white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. These blood cells fight infection, carry oxygen throughout your body and help clot blood. You need them to stay healthy.
Originally, the autologous (meaning "from one's own") stem cells were collected from the bone marrow, hence the term bone marrow transplant. Now, cells can be collected from the bloodstream in a procedure called apheresis, rather than from the bone marrow itself. Cells can come from the bone marrow, bloodstream or umbilical cord of the donor.
Stem cell transplantation can be a treatment option for those with blood cancer.
Legacy provides autologous transplants, which uses your own stem cells. Autologous transplantation can offer potential long-term control or cure for patients with:
- Hodgkin's disease that has recurred or never entered complete remission
- Multiple myeloma after initial therapy to help provide the best remission. Also used in patients who have had the disease return as long as the myeloma is still responding well to treatment.
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that has recurred or never entered complete remission. In certain high-risk lymphomas, autologous transplant may be done after initial treatment to reduce the chance that the lymphoma will return.
- Primary amyloidosis involving no more than 2 organs. Patients must have adequate heart function
- Testicular/germ cell cancer that has recurred
What to expect during transplantation
Stem-cell collection involves one to three apheresis procedures that are done to collect enough cells for the transplant. Once the stem cells are collected, they are processed and stored by the American Red Cross Stem Cell Laboratory.
After you recover from the collection procedure, you receive a high-dose chemotherapy regimen to destroy cancerous cells. This regimen is generally given over two to eight days, depending on the treatment protocol prescribed by the transplant doctor.
High-dose chemotherapy causes blood counts to drop to very low levels for about seven to 12 days. During this time, the transplant doctor and team work closely with you and your family to control or prevent side effects and complications.
Following high-dose chemotherapy, stem cells are infused into the bloodstream, much like a blood transfusion. Then they’ll travel to the bone marrow to take the place of damaged cells.
Approximately 10 to 12 days after the stem cells have been infused, the blood counts begin to recover and side effects from the high-dose chemotherapy begin to improve.
Your doctor will follow your progress by checking on your blood counts. They will go up as the newly transplanted stem cells produce more. You’ll receive the stem cells by re-infusion through a central line.
What happens next
Talk with your care team about side effects and how serious they may be. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these issues in the best ways possible.
To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. The tests can also determine if cancer has returned.
Working together for you
Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.
A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, the treatment options available, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.
You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.
National Institutes of Health: Stem cell basics
National Cancer Institute: Engineering patients’ immune cells to treat cancer
American Cancer Soceity: Stem cell transplant for cancer
National Donor Marrow Program: Be the Match
Cancer Institute: Stem cell transplants in cancer care