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Having high-dose treatment and a stem cell transplant allows you to have much higher doses of chemotherapy than usual and may help to improve the chances of curing the leukaemia, or prolonging a remission.
High-dose treatment with stem cell support| involves having very high doses of chemotherapy| and sometimes radiotherapy|, over a few days.
As well as destroying any leukaemia cells, the high-dose treatment also destroys the healthy stem cells in the bone marrow. Stem cells are blood cells in the very earliest stage of development. They develop into the different types of blood cell.
To help you recover from the high-dose treatment you will be given a drip (infusion) of stem cells after it. These stem cells are donated by either a sibling (your brother or sister) or an unrelated donor. The stem cells find their way to the bone marrow where they start producing new blood cells. This type of transplant is known as an allogeneic (donor) stem cell transplant|.
A transfusion of your own stem cells can also be done, although this is less common in adults with ALL. This is called high-dose treatment with stem cell support, or an autologus transplant. The stem cells are collected before you have the high-dose treatment.
Stem cell transplants may benefit a number of people with ALL, but they may not be suitable for everyone. High-dose treatment is usually used after induction chemotherapy treatment.
If your specialist thinks that high-dose treatment and a stem cell transplant is necessary or a possible treatment option for you, they will discuss it with you in detail.
Content last reviewed: 1 July 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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