Stem cell transplant

Under certain conditions, patients are administered a very high dose of chemotherapy followed by an autologous stem cell transplant. 

The goal of this treatment is to use this very high dose of chemotherapy to increase the odds of recovery, or to keep the tumor at bay for a very long time. Because high-dose chemotherapy suppresses the production of new blood cells, the patient's own stem cells are used to support the treatment.

Sabine Linn
This experimental treatment type will eventually most likely be covered by basic health insurance because of the positive results of various retrospective studies.
Prof. dr. Sabine Linn Medical oncolotist

What is an autologous stem cell transplant?

During an autologous stem cell transplant, blood stem cells are "harvested" from the blood through a leukapheresis procedure prior to the treatment. These blood stem cells are temporarily frozen. After the patient has received high-dose chemotherapy, these stem cells are thawed and returned to the patient. The stem cells that are administered to the patient, can facilitate bone marrow recovery after high-dose chemotherapy. This allows the bone marrow to recover while keeping the period in which minimal blood cells are produced is kept as short as possible. This treatment is called peripheral stem cell transplantation (PSCT).

The Netherlands Cancer Institute uses the patient's own stem cells (autologous) for peripheral stem cell transplantation, rather than those acquired from a donor (allogeneic). 

How are the stem cells obtained?

During a stem cell transplant, the patient's stem cells are collected prior to the dose of chemotherapy through a procedure called leukapheresis. During this procedure, the patient is connected to a leukapheresis device using a venous catheter. This device is a special kind of centrifuge. The blood is led to the device through one end of the catheter, while the other end returns the blood to your body.

The leukapheresis device can separate the stem cells from the rest of the blood using gravity and weight. The harvested stem cells are frozen and administered back into the body after completion of the high-dose chemotherapy.

For which tumor types?

Intensive autologous stem cell transplantation treatment may be available (as part of a trial);

  • in case of recurrence of testicular cancer after previous treatment with chemotherapy and
  • breast cancer under specific conditions. 

Your medical specialists and other practitioners will decide who will be eligible for the studies in joint consultation. Only you can make the final call on whether you want to and are able to participate.

More information?

For more information about stem cell transplantation, please refer to our patient folder or consult your specialist or nurse.

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