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Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant: Who Is It Most Appropriate For?

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Published on May 26, 2016

In this Ask the Expert segment, Frances asks, "When is the right time for an allogeneic [stem cell] transplant?" Myeloma expert Dr. Jatin Shah of MD Anderson Cancer Center responds by discussing the controversy surrounding this difficult choice and factors that should be considered, and he stresses the need for multiple opinions from your medical team.

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Transcript | Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant: Who Is It Most Appropriate For?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

Here’s a question we got from Frances. Frances wants to know, “When is the right time for an allogeneic transplant? Who is it most appropriate for?”

Dr. Shah:               

That’s a great question regarding the use of an allogeneic stem cell transplant. There’s still lots of controversy around the use of the allogeneic stem cell transplant. And again, just to make sure everybody’s aware of the differences between the two, an autologous stem cell transplant is when you use your own stem cells, or the patient uses their own stem cells as part of that transplant. And that’s something that we’ll commonly do in most patients who will be eligible for it, and we can consider that.

And allogeneic stem cell transplant is quite different. That’s when you use the stem cell of a donor. So it may be a brother or sister or some other unrelated donor.

 

That’s, again, a very different type of transplant than an autologous stem cell transplant. There are differences in opinions regarding the optimal timing for an allogeneic stem cell transplant. I think that the two areas that we would consider using that is under the setting of a clinical trial, because it’s still a difficult stem cell transplant to where I think under the auspices of a clinical trial where we can try and improve the outcomes, I think that’s one time to consider an allogeneic stem cell transplant.

The other time is for patients with high-risk disease who are at a younger age, and they may want to consider it in that very specific setting. And, again, that’s a very difficult decision to make. It’s really a life-altering decision. And for somebody who’s considering an allogeneic stem cell transplant, I really recommend having multiple different opinions, because there is no real, clear consensus about who to give an allogeneic stem cell transplant, when to do the stem cell transplant. 

And so if you’re going to make that type of decision, I would make sure you’re talking with your myeloma physician. I would make sure you’re talking with your stem cell transplant physician. And, in fact, many of my patients I'll refer for a second opinion, as well, really so they have really differences in opinions, and they have as much information for making such an important decision around that.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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