The transplant procedure allows a patient to receive extremely high doses of chemotherapy to kill as many cancer cells as possible. However in the process this treatment also destroys all the bone marrow. Without bone marrow, the body is unable to manufacture blood cells needed to carry oxygen and defend against infection. Therefore a stem cell transplant replaces the destroyed marrow, rescuing the patient from the effects of high dose chemotherapy (for more detailed information click on the PDF file for stem cell transplant).
An autologous transplant is one of many treatment options for myeloma patients, however it is not a cure. Not all patients diagnosed with myeloma are candidates for an autologous transplant. Medical experts have not arrived at a fixed set of guidelines for selecting patients who will benefit the most from transplant and protocols may differ depending on the institution or hospital. (for more detailed information read our "Understanding Stem Cell Transplant" publication).