Chemotherapy and Bone Marrow Transplant

Another mechanism to treat AL primary amyloidosis involves giving stronger chemotherapy to try to further eliminate the abnormal cells that produce the light chains. In this treatment approach, the chemotherapy is so strong that it depletes the body's own normal bone marrow cells.

Because of this, stem cells (collected from the patient before the chemotherapy is given) are given back to a patient after the chemotherapy, a procedure called a "bone marrow transplant" or a "stem cell transplant."

Risks of a bone marrow transplant in treating AL primary amyloidosis

While this had been the preferred treatment approach for AL primary amyloidosis for many years, a landmark study published in 2007 found that survival was generally better with conventional medical therapy (as described above) than with bone marrow transplants. This is likely due to the side effects and toxicities associated with treatment with the very strong chemotherapy which is administered during a bone marrow transplant.

For this reason, we recommend that most patients with AL primary amyloidosis undergo conventional therapy – though there are some cases (such as when disease progresses despite treatment with conventional therapy) in which bone marrow transplant represents the best option.

In addition, with a goal of helping both current and future patients with amyloidosis, the Stanford Amyloid Center also actively participates in and leads clinical trials. Your treatment team will tell you about any clinical trials which you are eligible for, and explain the potential benefits and risks of any trial to you.

Learn more about bone marrow transplant.  

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.

Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.

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