Over the last 20 years, haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) has been used to treat patients with severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases whose response to standard treatment options has been limited, resulting in a poor long-term prognosis in terms of survival or disability. The vast majority of patients have received autologous HSCT where an increasing evidence-base supports its use in a wide range of autoimmune diseases, particularly relapsing remitting MS, systemic sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. Compared with standard treatments for autoimmune diseases, HSCT is associated with greater short-term risks, including a risk of treatment-related mortality and long-term complications. There is a need for a careful appraisal of potential benefits and risks by disease and transplant specialists working closely together with patients and carers to determine individual suitability for HSCT. HSCT should be conducted in accredited transplant centres with robust arrangements for long-term follow-up with both disease and transplant specialists. The aim of this open-access position statement is to provide plainly worded guidance for patients and non-specialist clinicians considering HSCT for an autoimmune disease, especially when treatment abroad is being considered. Recent technical publications in the field have been referenced to support the statement and provide more detail for clinicians advising patients.
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