Why high-dose treatment with stem cell support is used
High-dose treatment with stem cell support is usually given following initial (standard dose) treatment and is sometimes known as consolidation.
High-dose treatment with stem cell support is used to destroy any remaining cancer cells. It can increase the chances of curing certain types of cancer or leukaemia.
It can also be given to help keep the cancer in remission (which happens when there are no signs of the cancer) for as long as possible.
It may be used when:
there is a high risk of the cancer returning
the cancer has come back after initial treatment
the cancer hasn’t responded completely to initial treatment.
The main benefit of high-dose treatment with stem cell support is that it allows you to have much higher doses of chemotherapy than usual to treat the cancer or leukaemia.
As well as destroying any cancer cells, the high-dose treatment will destroy the stem cells in your bone marrow. So before the high-dose treatment, some of your stem cells are taken and stored.
After the high-dose treatment, the stored stem cells will be given back to you as an infusion. They’ll go to your bone marrow and start to produce blood cells again.
High-dose treatment with stem cell support is carried out in hospitals that have large cancer units. Although it’s an intensive procedure, it’s less complicated than using stem cells from a donor (called an allogeneic transplant). There are fewer problems and recovery is faster.