New stem cell treatment cuts costs, hospital stay

Published on Aug 29, 2012

Madam Purwati receiving a blood transfusion to treat her cancer. — PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY CANCER INSTITUTE

When Madam Usdiati Endah Purwati, 52, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma earlier this year, she braced herself for a treatment that she knew could cost as much as $70,000.

After all, the stem cell transplant the school principal needs to treat the bone marrow cancer will keep her in the hospital for three weeks. But her bill ended up being half of that amount, and she did not have to be hospitalised at all.

This arrangement was possible because of a new treatment regimen introduced last year at the National University Cancer Institute that offers outpatient autologous stem cell transplants to multiple myeloma patients.

In such procedures, the patient’s stem cells are taken and stored; and after chemotherapy – which destroys much of the blood-producing stem cells along with the cancer cells – the stem cells are transplanted back to the same patient to help the body produce blood at a normal rate again.

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New stem cell treatment cuts costs, hospital stay