When a cancer patient undergoes chemotherapy, one of the procedures that helps kill cancer cells, the radiation used in the treatment not only damage those ill-causing cells, but they also damage other cells as well.
That is why people who undergo such treatments can experience some undesirable side effects like hair baldness, vomiting, among other things.
Stem cell therapy has been quite popular these days and did you know that you can also treat cancer patients by using this procedure as well?
Because of the damaging effects of chemotherapy, cells that are important for blood-forming can also be damaged as well. This is why the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell transplants are needed to give the ailing body the boost it needs to produce blood for fighting foreign pathogens, increase platelets, and also produce the much-needed red blood cells as well.
The Different Types
The Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Harvest has three different types:
- Allogenic- This is where the patient will receive stem cells that were extracted by a suitable donor.
- Autologous- This is where the patient receives their own stem cells back into their system, albeit in a more concentrated way.
- Syngeneic- If the patient happens to have an identical twin, the stem cells can be extracted from the twin (which proves to be the most compatible for the subject).
Now, you might ask how these cells are extracted in the first place. Well, some stem cells are acquired by extracting them in the person’s bone marrow, but for the Peripheral Blood Stem Cells, they are actually harvested from a person’s bloodstream.
The process of extraction is called Apheresis. In this procedure, the patient or the donor will have their blood extracted by a machine and it will separate the cells while also freezing them afterward. After the stem cells are extracted, the blood will then be circulated back into their system. The process usually lasts for 5 hours, although some conditions may apply.
How is it Administered?
So, how does this type of stem cell get transplanted? Well, the patient needs to undergo a radiation therapy or they have to take in some strong drugs. After which, the stem cells will then be transplanted through the patient’s intravenous line.
Once it has been transplanted, the stem cells will then make their way to the person’s bone marrow, after which, the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets will be produced (a process that is called Engraftment).
Engraftment can take weeks and in that time, the doctor will closely monitor the patient’s blood count in order to make sure that the procedure is in its right track.
Once everything is okay, the entire healing process will then take months until the immune system is back to normal.
Because the stem cells are only extracted mainly from the person’s bloodstream, the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell harvest has become mainstream and is more popular than the conventional bone marrow procedure.
This therapy has saved thousands of lives already and it proves to be one of the most effective medical procedures to help fight invasive cancer cells.
It would be interesting to see what kind of new treatments we would expect when given certain advancements in technology.