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Study Finds Big Strides Made in Treating Leukemia, Lymphoma in Past Decade
Date:11/24/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Clinicians have made remarkable advances in treating blood cancers with bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants in recent years, significantly reducing the risk of treatment-related complications and death, a new study shows.

Between the early 1990s and 2007, there was a 41 percent drop in the overall risk of death in an analysis of more than 2,500 patients treated at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, a leader in the field of blood cancers and other malignancies.

Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, who conducted the study, also noted dramatic decreases in treatment complications such as infection and organ damage.

The study was published in the Nov. 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine

"We have made enormous strides in understanding this very complex procedure and have yielded quite spectacular results," said study senior author Dr. George McDonald, a gastroenterologist with Hutchinson and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington, in Seattle. "This is one of the most complex procedures in medicine and we understand a lot of complications we didn't before."

Dr. Mitchell Smith, head of the lymphoma service at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, feels the general positive trend -- if not the exact numbers -- can be extrapolated to other care centers.

"Most of the things that they've been doing have been generally adopted by most transplant units, although you do have to be careful because they get a select patient population and they are experts," he said. "The smaller centers that don't do as many procedures may not get the exact same results, but the trend is clearly better."

Treatment of high-risk blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma was revolutionized in the 1970s with the introduction of allogeneic blood or bone marrow transpla
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