Cytostatics with or without stem cell therapy

Cytostatic therapy, which has been in use for decades, is still a valid and effective treatment for multiple myeloma, particularly in elderly patients. Cytostatic therapy is often combined with corticosteroid treatment. Intensive cytostatic therapy also involves stem cell transplantation.

Cytostatics prevent cell division, which leads to cancer cell death. Cytostatic medication may be
given intravenously, but also orally as tablets, and often together with corticosteroids.

Cytostatic treatment, i.e. chemotherapy, is based on individual assessment and the stage of the
cancer. Duration of treatment also varies from patient to patient. Courses of treatment are usually
given every 3–4 weeks.

Cytostatics

  • destroy tumours
  • enhance the results of surgical or radiation therapy
  • reduce the size of metastases
  • alleviate symptoms.

Cytostatics are carried in the bloodstream to all parts of the body, and they also destroy healthy
cells. Many of their adverse effects take place in renewable tissues such as hair, bone marrow and
mucous membranes. Typical adverse effects during cytostatic therapy include nausea, hair loss and
damage to the oral mucosa.

Most of the adverse effects can be effectively prevented or managed, and usually the patient’s
functional capacity remains good during the treatment cycles.

High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation

Myeloma patients who are under 65–70 years and in good condition can be treated with the more
effective high-dose chemotherapy, supported by stem cell transplantation.

High doses of cytostatics damage the bone marrow. This may result in a life-threatening fall in the
production of blood cells.

The problem can be overcome using stem cells harvested from the patient before treatment. When
the patient’s own stem cells are returned to them (autologous transplant), the bone marrow can
continue to function normally after this rather stressful treatment.

stem cell

Allogeneic stem cell transplant can be performed on younger patients

Donor stem cells (allogeneic transplant) are used in conjunction with cytostatic therapy only for
patients who are young enough and in sufficiently good condition and have a particularly high-risk
myeloma.