The Stem Cell Transplant Program located in the Kingston Health Sciences Centre – Kingston General Hospital site completes about 50 to 60 autologous transplants per year. An interprofessional team will care for you while you are an outpatient (coming for an appointment) and an inpatient (staying in the hospital). Our Program has the same standard of care and response rates as nearby hospitals who also offer autologous stem cell transplants, such as those in Toronto or Ottawa.
At the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), the types of cancer treated with an autologous stem cell transplant are:
- Relapsed Hodgkin’s disease
- Relapsed or Aggressive Lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma or plasma cell disorders
With lymphomas, the purpose of the transplant may be to cure the disease or control the disease symptoms and improve your quality of life.
With myeloma, the purpose of the transplant is to control the disease symptoms and improve your quality of life.
You must meet certain criteria to be considered suitable for a stem cell transplant. Talk to your hematologist about your individual treatment plan and if a stem cell transplant is an appropriate and safe option for you.
What is Autologous Stem Cell Transplants?
An autologous stem cell transplant is a treatment for certain types of cancer. It involves collecting some of your blood stem cells, getting a high dose of chemotherapy, and then re-infusing your stem cells back to you through an intravenous (IV). This treatment allows you to have much higher doses of chemotherapy than usual. Your re-infused stem cells act as a rescue and help re-grow your blood cells after the high dose of chemotherapy.
Other transplants use stem cells from someone else (a donor) and are called a donor stem cell transplant, or an allogeneic transplant. Allogeneic transplants for other types of blood cancers or bone marrow disorders are not available at KHSC at this time. If you require a stem cell transplant that uses donor stem cells, such as for acute myeloid leukemia, you will be referred to another hospital outside of our region (for example, Ottawa).
The Bone Marrow and Stem Cells
To understand a stem cell transplant, it helps to know about blood cells, stem cells and the bone marrow.
Red blood cells carry oxygen to all cells in the body. Our bodies need oxygen in order to work properly.
White blood cells are made in the bone marrow and their purpose is to fight infection.
Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell important in fighting infections. These cells are measured separately as part of the white blood count.
Platelets are cells in the body that make your blood clot. When the platelet count is lower, you may bleed more easily and for a longer time.
Stem cells are blood cells at their earliest stage of development. All blood cells develop from stem cells. The full name for stem cells in the blood and bone marrow is hematopoietic progenitor cells, but on this webpage we call them stem cells.
Bone marrow is a spongy material inside the bones. The bone marrow is where stem cells are made. Stem cells stay in the bone marrow while they mature into blood cells. Then, once they are fully mature, the blood cells are released into the bloodstream.