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Bone marrow transplant survival more than doubles for young high-risk leukemia patients
Date:7/14/2011

Bone marrow transplant survival more than doubled in recent years for young, high-risk leukemia patients treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, with patients who lacked genetically matched donors recording the most significant gains. The results are believed to be the best ever reported for leukemia patients who underwent bone marrow transplantation.

The findings are expected to make transplantation a treatment option for more children and adolescents with high-risk forms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who lack genetically matched donors, either related or unrelated. The research appears in the July 14 edition of the scientific journal Blood.

"This study shows that transplantation offers real hope of survival to patients with high-risk leukemia that is not curable with intensive chemotherapy," said Wing Leung, M.D., Ph.D., the study's principal investigator and director of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at St. Jude. Leung linked the gains to advances in cancer treatment as well as improved infection control and more sophisticated donor selection.

Five years after transplantation, survival was 65 percent for the 37 St. Jude patients with high-risk ALL treated at the hospital between 2000 and 2007, compared to 28 percent for the 57 St. Jude ALL patients who underwent treatment between 1991 and 1999. ALL is the most common childhood cancer.

AML survival after transplantation rose from 34 percent for the 50 St. Jude patients treated between 1997 and 2002 to 74 percent for the 46 AML patients treated between 2002 and 2008.

During the same periods, there was an eight-fold reduction in infections, a four-fold drop in treatment-related toxicity and a 2.5-fold decrease in leukemia-related deaths. The overall survival gains coincided with an end to irradiation therapy for St. Jude leukemia patients, a treatment that is associated with a range of imme
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-595-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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