Some cancer patients can be helped by a stem cell transplant, in which their own cells are used for therapy. Vivantes Neukölln Hospital is now a selection hospital for such autologous stem cell transplants according to the 2016 Berlin Hospital Plan.
On World Cancer Day on February 4, chief physician Prof. Dr. Maike de Wit explains how autologous stem cell transplantation works, in which a patient is virtually his or her own stem cell donor: "To say it simply: We first administer chemotherapy, which largely destroys the cancer cells but only slightly attacks the bone marrow. Then we filter the hematopoietic stem cells from the blood, which are then no longer mixed with cancer cells. We then give intensive chemotherapy, which destroys any remaining malignant cells. And to replace the damaged bone marrow and promote faster hematopoietic recovery, the body's own healthy stem cells are returned."
Body tolerates therapy relatively well
Although this high-dose chemotherapy is strenuous for the body, it is relatively easy for older otherwise healthy people to tolerate, de Wit added. The Neukölln cancer doctors use this form of stem cell transplantation in particular for malignant diseases of the plasma cells in the bone marrow (multiple myeloma), the lymph glands (lymphomas) or recurring germ cell tumors such as testicular cancer. Therapy is performed on an inpatient basis. One to two weeks after the transplant, the blood count usually improves. After three to four weeks, patients can usually be discharged.
The oncologists at Vivantes Neukölln Hospital have already gained experience with this for several years. For example, the clinic is involved in the Interdisciplinary Testicular Tumor Working Group, a group of physicians from all over Germany who have been working on the diagnosis and therapy of testicular tumors for many years.