High-dose treatment with stem cell support allows you to have much higher doses of chemotherapy than usual to treat the cancer or leukaemia.
You usually have standard-dose treatment first to get rid of as many cancer cells as possible. After this, you have high-dose treatment to destroy any remaining cancer cells. But high-dose treatment destroys the stem cells in your bone marrow as well as the cancer cells.
Because of this, you have some of your stem cells taken and stored before having high-dose treatment. After the treatment, they are given back to you through a drip (infusion). Your stem cells make their way to your bone marrow and start making new blood cells. Without this it could take weeks or even months for your blood count to recover.
High-dose treatment with stem cell support increases the chances of curing certain cancers or leukaemia. It also helps keep certain cancers, like myeloma, in remission for as long as possible. Remission is when there are no signs of the cancer.
This treatment may be used when:
- there is a higher risk of the cancer coming back without it
- the cancer has come back after other treatment
- the cancer has not responded completely to treatment.
Although it is an intensive procedure, it is less complicated than using stem cells from a donor (called allogeneic transplants). There are fewer problems and recovery is faster. You have it in a cancer unit that specialises in this treatment. You will usually need to stay in hospital for a few weeks.