-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Age in itself should not be
a factor in deciding whether blood cancer patients are candidates
for stem cell transplantation, according to a new study.
Blood cancers include leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
For the study, researchers analyzed long-term outcomes among 372
blood cancer patients aged 60 to 75 who underwent a
"mini-transplant," which is a "kinder, gentler" form of allogeneic
(cells from another person) stem cell transplantation developed at
the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
The five-year rates of overall survival and disease
progression-free survival among the patients were 35 percent and 32
percent, respectively. Comparable survival rates were seen when the
patients were divided into three age groups -- 60 to 64, 65 to 69,
and 70 to 75 -- suggesting that age plays a limited role in the
success of the mini-transplant.
While a survival rate of one-third may seem low, all of the
patients would have died within months if they didn't have the
transplant, Dr. Mohamed Sorror, an assistant member of the
Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division, noted in a news
release from the Center.
The investigators also found that greater cancer aggressiveness
and having a larger number of medical problems not linked to cancer
("comorbidities") were two factors that affected survival,
regardless of age.
For example, the five-year survival for patients with less
aggressive cancer and fewer comorbidities was 69 percent, compared
with 23 percent for patients with more aggressive cancer and a
large number of comorbidities, according to the report in the Nov.
2 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
Conventional stem cell transplants are generally not performed
on blood cancer patients older than 60 because high doses of
total-body radiation and potent chemotherapy are used to prepare
patients for transplantation.
However, the mini-transplant relies on the donor's immune cells
to kill the cancer, and low-dose radiation and chemotherapy is used
to suppress the immune system rather than destroy it.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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