The choice of treatment for mantle-cell lymphoma depends on several factors, including the stage of disease, the age of the patient, and the patient’s overall health. Overall health is important, because some patients require more gentler treatments than others.1,2
High-dose chemotherapy is often used to kill cancerous white blood cells in patients with lymphoma (including mantle-cell lymphoma). Unfortunately, chemotherapy also kills some of the stem cells the body needs to replace the cancerous cells with new, healthy cells. A stem-cell transplant replaces the stem cells that were destroyed and restores the ability of the bone marrow to make new blood cells.1,3
Because the combination of high-dose chemotherapy and stem-cell transplant places great strain on the body, this approach may not be an option for every patient. Fit patients are usually better able to tolerate the treatment, which may keep mantle-cell lymphoma under control for a longer period of time.1,4 Patients and their loved ones have many factors to consider when deciding whether a stem-cell transplant is an appropriate treatment for them.
In mantle-cell lymphoma, eligible patients receive an autologous stem-cell transplant, which means their own blood-forming stem cells are collected. The collection process, during which blood is drawn from a vein, may take from 1 to 5 days. The blood is then put through an apheresis machine, which separates the stem cells from the other blood cells.3
Autologous stem-cell transplantation is most commonly recommended when patients have aggressive mantle-cell lymphoma that responds to chemotherapy. The treatment usually requires a hospital stay with a long recovery process, which comes with a number of side effects. Although most of these side effects are temporary—such as low blood cell counts, infection, fatigue, and hair loss—stem-cell transplants may also result in infertility.3
It is important for patients to discuss all possible therapeutic options—including their risks and possible side effects—with their healthcare team to determine whether a stem-cell transplant is the right option.
- Lymphoma Research Foundation. Understanding the Stem Cell Transplantation Process. July 2016. www.lymphoma.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/STEM_CELL_TRANSPLANTATION_BOOKLET-1.pdf. Accessed May 19, 2019.
- Lymphoma Action. Mantle cell lymphoma. https://lymphoma-action.org.uk/types-lymphoma-non-hodgkin-lymphoma/mantle-cell-lymphoma. Accessed May 19, 2019.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Autologous Stem Cell Transplant: A Guide for Patients & Caregivers. www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/autologous-stem-cell-transplant-guide-patients-caregivers. Accessed May 19, 2019.
- Helwick C. Mantle cell lymphoma: Is transplantation still necessary? The ASCO Post. September 25, 2015. www.ascopost.com/issues/september-25-2015/mantle-cell-lymphoma-is-transplantation-still-necessary. Accessed May 19, 2019.