Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Patients With Multiple Myeloma - An Overview for Nurses in Community Practice

The Changing Landscape of Multiple Myeloma

Scientific advancements relative to diagnostic evaluation, risk-adapted treatment selection, and supportive care strategies for multiple myeloma (MM) have been developed in the past decade, which provides hope for patients living with MM. However, the disease remains incurable for the majority of patients, and continued clinical trials are necessary to refine existing therapeutic strategies and develop new approaches to treatment. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), in particular autologous HSCT, remains an important component in the overall treatment paradigm for MM. This requires a well-organized team approach with ongoing communications and collaboration with community providers and other specialists. The majority of care for patients with MM is provided in the outpatient setting, relying on the active participation of both the patient and caregiver(s) for successful clinical outcomes. This supplement is prepared by members of the International Myeloma Foundation Nurse Leadership Board, which is dedicated to improving the care of patients with MM and their caregivers. The introduction serves to provide an overview of MM today and to summarize the articles included in this supplement. 

Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Patients With Multiple Myeloma

Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) is approved for the treatment of select solid tumors, autoimmune disorders, and most hematologic malignancies. Multiple myeloma (MM) is the most common indication for AHSCT. Despite improvement in response and survival rates in the era of novel agents, AHSCT remains an important treatment option for patients with MM who are eligible. Clinical management of patients with MM requires a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates healthcare professionals in a number of clinical settings as well as caregivers and the patient. Patients about to undergo AHSCT are generally referred to tertiary care centers that specialize in ASCT. Pre- and post-transplantation treatments and long-term follow-up often are managed by a community-based referring oncologist in collaboration with the transplantation team. Oncology nurses play an integral role in the care of patients with MM in each clinical setting. This article aims to provide non-transplantation oncology nurses with guidelines for education, clinical management, and support of patients with MM undergoing AHSCT with a primary focus on the pre- and post-transplantation period.

Caregivers of Multiple Myeloma Survivors

Patients living with multiple myeloma (MM) face complex decisions throughout their journey relative to their diagnosis, options for treatment, and how their disease and treatment choices may affect them physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Patients considering a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation face specific self-management challenges. The availability of a reliable caregiver is a prerequisite to transplantation eligibility. Currently, the majority of clinical management is episodic and provided in the outpatient setting. Therefore, the bulk of care for patients living with MM is provided by the patient together with his or her caregivers. Caregivers face similar challenges to those faced by the patient living with MM. They are required to take in complex information, perform often complicated or technical procedures such as line care or injections, assist the patient with activities of daily living, and attend the myriad of appointments required. Understanding the dynamics of the patient-caregiver relationship, the strengths and weaknesses unique to that relationship, common elements of caregiver stress or strain, and available tools and strategies to promote a sense of control and enhance self-management skills may improve the health-related quality of life for both the patient with MM and his or her caregiver. 

Clinical Updates in Blood and Marrow Transplantation in Multiple Myeloma

The process of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is well defined, yet debate remains surrounding the role and timing of HSCT in patients with multiple myeloma (MM). Since the 1980s, survival advances have been made with the use of newer agents by recognizing the role of transplantation, identifying the anticipated side effects at each phase, and improving supportive care strategies. Data support transplantation as part of the treatment strategy, but the optimal induction regimen and timing of transplantation have yet to be defined. The general consensus is that eligible patients should undergo autologous HSCT at some point in the treatment spectrum, preferably earlier rather than later in the disease. Allogeneic transplantation is only recommended in the context of a clinical trial and in patients with high-risk disease. The transplantation process can be overwhelming for patients and caregivers. Nurses play a key role in improving outcomes by caring for patients and families throughout the transplantation experience and, therefore, need to be knowledgeable about the process. This article is intended to expand discussion on the role of nurses in assisting patients and families undergoing transplantation to include an overview of the acute care phase of the transplantation process. 

Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Multiple Myeloma

When caring for patients with multiple myeloma, questions often arise about the role and timing of autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. As a complement to the other articles in this supplement, as well as to ensure that readers are provided with the insight needed to feel comfortable speaking to patients and other practitioners about this topic, the authors address eight frequently asked questions about common decision points in the process of autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation as a treatment for patients with multiple myeloma.