An autologous stem cell transplant involves performing surgery with the patient's own stem cells. The patient's stem cells are taken and frozen in advance. After receiving high doses of chemotherapy, the stem cells are subsequently returned to the patient's body.
Patients with cancer frequently undergo autologous stem cell transplantation as part of their treatment (ASCT). With combination chemotherapy, which may include radiation therapy, the majority of lymphoma patients remission. ASCT is the best choice for people who are presently unable to benefit from chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Autologous bone marrow transplant
How is an autologous stem cell transplant performed?
Harvesting the stem cells is the first step in an autologous stem cell transplant. Typically, these cells are taken from the circulation (peripheral blood stem cells). The bone marrow stem cells are activated before entering the peripheral circulatory system. The collection procedure begins as soon as the stem cells enter the bloodstream.
An apheresis machine is used to isolate the blood. It takes a few hours to continue this process until the necessary number of stem cells is collected. Once gathered, the stem cells are stored in a lab's freezer until required.
Prior to organising the stem cell transplant, the specialist destroys the diseased cells using chemotherapy and radiation. Two days after the radiation therapy is completed, the transplant takes place.
To make the frozen bags of immature cells ready for transplant, they are defrosted. The stem cells are reinjected into the circulatory system after being defrosted. This process takes around an hour. The stem cells penetrate the bone marrow deeply and produce new stem cells there. This process is referred to as engraftment. As a lymphoma treatment, ASCT has had some encouraging outcomes.
Preparation test: A variety of tests and procedures can be used to determine your general health and condition. Your physical readiness for the transplant is also confirmed by the tests and therapies. The evaluation can require a few days or more.
To begin with the procedure, a lengthy, thin tube will be put into a large vein in your neck or chest. The catheter, also known as a central line, is frequently retained in place while you receive treatment. The transplant team will administer medications, blood components, and the transplanted stem cells into your body through the central line.
Procedure for collecting stem cells: You will go through the apheresis procedure to collect blood stem cells if a stem cell transplant using your own blood is planned. Prior to apheresis, you will get daily growth factor injections to encourage the production of additional stem cells and to aid their entry into your bloodstream for removal.
During apheresis, blood is drawn from a vein and circulated through a machine. The machine separates your blood into a variety of components, including stem cells. These stem cells are collected and preserved in order to be used in transplants in the future. The extra blood is reabsorbed by your body.
The procedure is less invasive and safe to do.
Following a stem cell transplant, patients require ongoing medical monitoring. The team of doctors will make sure your immune system is recuperating and there are no side effects from the high-dose chemotherapy and radiation therapy you received before your transplant.
The team will also keep an eye out for any possible recurrence of cancer. You will receive long-term follow-up care from a nurse practitioner with experience in treating transplant survivors.
Your nurse practitioner will keep an eye on any indications that show the sign of cancer has returned or not. This person will also concentrate on locating, averting, and managing any side effects related to the transplant you may experience.
The following will be covered in later follow-up appointments with a nurse practitioner:
A review of your recent medical history and a physical examination are performed to check for any recurrence of cancer.
A test to determine your cancer's side effects and those of its therapy. As well as a tool to assist you to manage any side effects you may be feeling, and referrals for screening for other issues or symptoms.
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An overview of the therapy and a schedule for aftercare
A consultation with the doctor can be scheduled according to the condition.
The stem cell transplant procedure has risks at every stage. They consist of-:
Aching bones are caused by growth factors.
During apheresis, you can feel queasy or tingly in your hands or feet.
Chemotherapy's side effects include discomfort, tiredness, and nausea, mucositis (Oral & Abdominal)
Profuse bleeding and easy bruising. Transfusions of blood or platelets are frequently required after autologous stem cell transplants in patients.
Until engraftment happens, infections (febrile neutropenia) and other diseases may arise. Even germs that may not have previously given you a cold or flu can have serious consequences.
Pneumonia, typhlitis & Sepsis.
Your immune system is compromised until engraftment takes place since chemotherapy caused all of your blood cells to be killed. It is crucial to spend the initial phase of recovery in the hospital since you have a higher risk of infections.
You should anticipate feeling exhausted once you reach home. You might feel more like your former self on some days. On other days, you can feel too worn out to get out of bed. Full recovery can take several months.
On top of any physical side effects, you can also experience emotional difficulties. It can be challenging to go on with your life due to the unpredictable nature of healing. You could be concerned about the transplant's success.
Additionally, drugs related to treatment may have an impact on how you feel about yourself and how you look. Your healthcare professional can assist you in finding counselling and other options to cope-up with this difficult time.