Stem Cell Transplant Should Be Tried First With Multiple Myeloma

Expert panel recommends it over standard chemotherapy

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WENDESDAY, April 9, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Stem cell transplant is better than standard chemotherapy as first-line treatment for people with a type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma.

That recommendation, from an expert panel, appears in the current issue of Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation.

The panel made this and other treatment recommendations after they conducted an extensive analysis of published medical literature.

"This information is important for multiple myeloma patients and their physicians as they make treatment decisions and seek reimbursement from health insurers for transplantation," panel chairman Dr. John Wingard, of the University of Florida College of Medicine, says in a news release.

About 15,000 people are diagnosed each year with multiple myeloma, which is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow. The severity of the disease varies from person to person. In some people, it's a mild illness that needs to be carefully monitored but requires no treatment. In others, it requires aggressive therapy.

In stem cell transplants, healthy stem cells are collected from circulating blood or from bone marrow.

Along with the recommendation that stem cell transplant be the first therapy for multiple myeloma that requires treatment, the expert panel also concluded that:

  • Stem cell transplant using cells from circulating blood is better than transplant using stem cells from bone marrow and is the recommended standard of care.
  • Stem cell transplant is equally effective for people who don't respond to chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy or people whose disease recurs after treatment.
  • Stem cell transplant using a patient's own stem cells is currently the standard of care compared to transplant with donor stem cells.
  • A method in which stem cells are harvested from the bone marrow of the patient and treated to remove diseased cells in not an effective treatment for multiple myeloma.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about multiple myeloma.

SOURCE: American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, news release, March 31, 2003

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