Multiple myeloma is difficult to treat with chemotherapy alone. Sometimes higher doses of chemotherapy are used, but they can lower blood counts. Using a patient’s own cells (special cells called “stem cells”) to help increase blood counts after high doses of chemotherapy is called autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT).
While advances in supportive care have improved the safety of ASCT, blood counts still decrease for a period of days after high doses of chemotherapy. During this time, patients are at greater risk for infections. Studies have shown that the faster blood counts recover after ASCT, the lower the risk of unwanted side effects.
Typically during an ASCT, a patient’s stem cells are returned to them all at once on a single day. In this study, researchers plan to see what happens when smaller amounts of a patient’s own stem cells are returned over several days. Some studies have suggested that this approach helps increase bone marrow activity and decrease the time it takes for blood counts to recover after ASCT.