High Dose Chemotherapy

Stem Cell Treatments and High Dose

This is a process by which doctors use very high amounts of chemotherapy in the hope of trying to bring cancer cells in line and destroy them.  As cancer spreads through various areas of the body, it becomes very important for doctors to target those areas to insure that the disease does not spread further.  Some cancers are harder to fight and sometimes standard methods of using chemotherapy are not able to work well.  If your doctor recommends high dose chemotherapy with bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, this is perhaps an aggressive way to fight the condition.

Why It Is Difficult?

All types of cancer chemotherapy do cause a number of side effects.  Some patients will face more than others.  The level of intensity of those drug interactions with your body can be varied as well.  Yet, with high doses of chemotherapy, in this manner, the effects of chemotherapy are often much more monumental.  Yet, there are more risks to be had and doctors must weigh the good effects against the risks that need to be taken to get to that point.  Ask your doctor to tell you more about how this is happening.

In high dose chemotherapy, or sometimes radiation therapy, the effect of the chemotherapy treatment is essential.  In this process, not only does the chemotherapy method kill off the cancer cells, but it can also kill the blood making stem cells in your body’s bone marrow.  When this happens, the body’s white blood cell count is drastically lowered; in turn this can lead to the easy susceptibility of patients to contract severe infections.  Sometimes, these infections can be fatal.  Additionally, the process causes people to bleed easily which can also be fatal to the patient.

Doctors have developed a method to overcome these risks with high dose chemotherapy.  They will first remove some of the stem cells from the patient’s body, usually from the peripheral blood (which is the blood circulating through your body) or from the bone marrow itself.  Then, they will administer the high dose chemotherapy treatment.  Once that process has been done and the chemotherapy is running its course, doctors will then return the stem cells back into the body through your veins.  The cells naturally find their way into the bone marrow and then reestablish their existence there.  When this happens, the body is able to get back to making new blood cells to replenish those lost through chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done on high dose chemotherapy.  Doctors are not sure why some cancers do not react any better to this method than to others.  More so, some cancers seem to be unaffected by the high doses even with the application of stem cells afterwards.  Additionally troubling for many patients is the fact that this procedure will lead to advanced complications in terms of side effects.  They may find that extremes are faced which are painful and often debilitating for some time.

As with all chemotherapy treatments, this treatment is one option that doctors have.  It is only used in the most advanced cases of cancer and often only when there is no other medication method to improve the situation.  It does not always help and should not be considered in some situations because of the additional risks placed on the patient.

Talk to your doctor about high dose chemotherapy if you are suffering from advanced stages of cancer.  In some situations, there is hope in improving the condition in this manner.  Still, doctors are likely to need more research before they can use this method readily.

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