New Research Shows Significant Improvement in Overall Survival Outcomes for Patients Receiving Blood Stem Cell Transplants

Study of 38,000 patients analyzes reasons for better survival
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS—May 28, 2013—Survival rates have increased significantly among patients who received blood stem cell transplants from both related and unrelated donors, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology today. The study authors attribute the increase to several factors, including advances in HLA tissue typing, better supportive care and earlier referral for transplantation.

The study analyzed outcomes for more than 38,000 transplant patients with life-threatening blood cancers and other diseases over a 12-year period – capturing approximately 70 to 90 percent of all related and unrelated blood stem cell transplants performed in the U.S. It was led by Theresa Hahn, Ph.D., and Philip McCarthy, M.D., of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), in collaboration with the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research® (CIBMTR), the research arm of the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) and Be The Match®.

“This study shows that we are making significant progress, on a national level, in survival after transplantation. Patients across the country have benefited from the collaborative efforts of the CIBMTR, the NMDP and clinical researchers at individual transplant centers," said Dr. Hahn, an Associate Member and Associate Professor of Oncology in RPCI's Department of Medicine and first author on the study. “Our results demonstrate that these efforts have yielded improvement in early survival rates, and we will continue to work together to further improve long-term survival.”

At 100 days post-transplant, the study shows survival significantly improved for patients with myeloid leukemias (AML) receiving related transplants (85 percent to 94 percent) and unrelated transplants (63 percent to 86 percent). At one-year post-transplant, patients who received an unrelated transplant showed an increased survival rate from 48 to 63 percent, while the survival rate for related transplant recipients did not improve. Similar results were seen for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

“The existence of the CIBMTR, which is a collaboration of the NMDP and the Medical College of Wisconsin, and its database of more than 330,000 patient outcomes made it possible for us to study whether and how the use of blood stem cell transplants, both related and unrelated, have changed over time,” said Navneet Majhail, M.D., co-author of the study and medical director at the NMDP. “The significant improvements we saw across all patient and disease populations should offer patients hope and, among physicians, reinforce the role of blood stem cell transplants as a curative option for life-threatening blood cancers and other diseases.”

In addition to improved survival, the authors note a significant increase in the overall number of patients receiving transplants. Related and unrelated transplant as treatment for ALL, AML, MDS and Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas increased by 45 percent – from 2,520 to 3,668 patients annually. This is likely due to the use of reduced-intensity conditioning therapy and a greater availability of unrelated volunteer donors, a result of efforts by the NMDP and Be The Match to increase and diversify the Be The Match Registry®.

“As evidenced by this data, the transplantation community has clearly made momentous progress toward improving survival rates,” said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., chief executive officer of the NMDP. “Together with our research arm, CIBMTR, and our global partners, we will continue advancing the science of transplant to extend the curative power of this therapy to more patients and more diseases and help all patients live longer, healthier lives.”

About Roswell Park Cancer Institute:
The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, RPCI is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org. Follow RPCI on Facebook or Twitter.

About the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR)

The CIBMTR collaborates with the global scientific community to advance hematopoietic cell transplantation and cellular therapy research worldwide. A combined research program of the National Marrow Donor Program and the Medical College of Wisconsin, the CIBMTR facilitates critical, cutting-edge research that has led to increased survival and an enriched quality of life for thousands of patients. The prospective and observational research is accomplished through scientific and statistical expertise, a large network of transplant centers and clinical database of more than 300,000 transplant recipients.

About the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) is the global leader in providing a cure to patients with life-threatening blood and marrow cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, as well as other diseases. The nonprofit organization manages the world’s largest registry of potential marrow donors and cord blood units, connects patients to their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant, educates health care professionals and conducts research so more lives can be saved. The NMDP also operates Be The Match, which provides patient support and enlists the community to join the Be The Match Registry, contribute financially and volunteer. Learn more at marrow.org/md.

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Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org