Stem Cell, Bone Marrow Transplants Both Benefit Leukemia Patients

MONDAY Feb. 1, 2010 -- Long-term survival rates are similar for leukemia patients who've had either peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) or bone marrow transplants, a new European study says.

The study began with 329 leukemia patients who received either PBSC or bone marrow transplants from a matched sibling donor between 1995 and 1999. Detailed information was collected on all the patients who survived longer than three years after their transplant.

Ten years after transplantation, 49.1 percent of PBSC recipients and 56.5 percent of bone marrow transplant recipients were still alive. Chronic graft versus host disease was more common among PBSC transplant patients (73 percent) than among bone marrow transplant patients (54 percent), and more PBSC recipients needed immunosuppressive treatment five years after transplantation (26 percent vs. 12 percent). But this did not affect the PBSC recipients' general health status or their ability to return to work, the study found.

The researchers also noted a trend toward improved, but not statistically significant, leukemia-free survival and overall survival after bone marrow transplant in patients with acute leukemias. Among patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, 10-year leukemia-free survival probability was 28.3 percent in the bone marrow transplant group, compared with 13 percent in the PBSC transplant group.

In patients with acute myeloid leukemia, the rates were 62.3 percent for bone marrow transplant and 47.1 percent for PBSC transplant. For patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, the rates were 40.2 percent for bone marrow transplant and 48.5 percent for PBSC transplant.

"This update comparing two important stem cell sources did not find differences in survival after 10-year follow-up. However, subgroup analyses did reveal notable differences in survival in patients with acute leukemias between those who received allogeneic blood cells and those who received bone marrow, while no differences were seen in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, the researchers wrote.

"Our observations support previous reports that different patient groups might still benefit from transplantation with bone marrow," they concluded.

The study was published online Jan. 31 in The Lancet Oncology.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about leukemia.

Posted: February 2010


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