NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Multiple Myeloma - page 29

NCCN Guidelines for Patients™: Multiple Myeloma
Version 1.2012
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3.3 Stem cell transplant
plasma cells and blood stem cells. This greatly weakens the immune system so that
your body doesn’t kill the transplanted stem cells. However, not every person can
tolerate the high-dose chemotherapy before the transplant.
Transplanting the stem cells
Once the high-dose chemotherapy is complete, the harvested stem cells are
transplanted into you with a transfusion. A transfusion is when whole blood or parts
of blood are put directly into your bloodstream through a vein. This process can
take 1 to 5 hours to complete.
Once the stem cells are transplanted into you, they travel to your bone marrow and
begin to make new red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This process is
called engraftment. Engraftment usually occurs about 11 to 14 days after the stem
cell transfusion and is seen by rising blood counts.
Until engraftment occurs, you have little or no immune defense and so you are at
high risk for infection and bleeding. Therefore, you must stay at a hospital in a very
clean (sterile) unit for about 2 weeks. You may be given antibiotic drugs to prevent
or treat infection. You may also be given blood transfusions to prevent bleeding and
to treat anemia. It may take a few weeks or months for blood cells to fully recover
so that your immune system is back to normal.
Immune system:
The group
of organs and cells that
defends the body against
A type of blood
cell that forms blood clots
to control bleeding
Red blood cell:
A type
of blood cell that carries
oxygen from the lungs to
all parts of the body
White blood cell:
A type
of blood cell that fights
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