For an autologous transplant, your own blood-forming cells are collected, frozen and stored. Then, they’re given back to you after chemotherapy (chemo) and possibly radiation. Your doctor will decide the best time to collect your cells. After they are collected, the cells can be frozen for months or years until you need them for your transplant.
How are my cells collected?
There are 2 options. Your doctor will decide which is best for you.
1. Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection: The cells are collected from your bloodstream. This process is called apheresis. Before apheresis, you get shots for a few days to increase the number of blood-forming cells in your bloodstream. During apheresis, blood is removed from your vein through an intravenous (IV) line, passed through a machine, and put back into your vein. The machine takes out the blood-forming cells that will be used for your transplant. Most patients who have an autologous transplant collect their cells this way.
2. Bone marrow collection: The cells are collected from the pelvic (hip) bone during surgery. You get anesthesia so you don’t feel pain. A doctor uses a special needle to take out the blood-forming cells from your bone marrow.
Questions to ask your doctor
- How will you decide the best time to collect my cells?
- How will you decide the best time for transplant?
- If my disease comes back (relapses), will I be able to get an allogeneic transplant?