Outcome of stem cell transplant not mitigated by source of donor cells

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The findings of a new German study involving 329 leukemia patients might help clarify some of the uncertainty surrounding an outstanding issue in stem cell transplants—namely, whether long-term survival is affected by the source of the donor cells: bone marrow or peripheral blood.

The answer is no—long-term outcomes do not appear to be affected. Nor are other things affected, such as one's ability to work or the rates of secondary cancers.

However, patients receiving bone marrow transplants experienced far fewer instances of chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) than those receiving peripheral blood (56 percent of the former group, 73 percent of the latter).

Consequently, five years after the procedure, a full 26 percent of those given a peripheral blood transplant were on immunosuppressant therapy, compared to just 12 percent of those getting bone marrow.

This would suggest that while one's 'long-term outcome' isn't affected by donor cell source, one's long-term quality of life could very well be.

By Ross Bonander

Extended summary: MedPageToday
Journal pub: Friedrichs B, et al "Long-term outcome and late effects in patients transplanted with mobilised blood or bone marrow: a randomised trial" Lancet Oncol 2010; DOI:10.1016/S1470-2045(09)70352-3.

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