Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that starts in the plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that makes antibodies to fight infection. Multiple myeloma occurs when there is an abnormality in a plasma cell, this is then called a myeloma cell. It divides again and again producing more abnormal cells. These cells form an accumulation of tissue called a tumour. The myeloma cells will eventually collect in the bone marrow and damage the bones and other organs.
Stem cells are produced in the bone marrow. They are immature cells that have the potential to self-generate themselves into many different cell types in the body.
The patient will receive high doses of chemotherapy to destroy the myeloma cells as well as the healthy blood cells. The stem cells that have previously been collected from the patient themselves (autologus) or from a donor (allogenic), will then be transplanted back into the patient. These stem cells can then develop into new healthy blood cells.