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Success of a Transplant in Cases of Malignant Bone Marrow

written by: Vikas Vij • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 12/16/2010

Malignant bone marrow transplant success rates have gone up due to improvements in anti-biotic regimens and enhanced patient care systems. Each year several thousand patients undergo BMT with a good survival rate.

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    Bone Marrow Transplant Survival

    Over the past nearly half a century, the malignant bone marrow transplant success rate has improved considerably. As the success rate improved, the procedure of bone marrow transplantation has been used more frequently. The first major breakthrough in bone marrow transplant was achieved in 1968 when the procedure was performed successfully for an infant. By the early 1990s, over 7,500 BMT procedures were performed in the United States.

    Success rate has gone up in the intervening decades, but the key hurdle still remains to locate a matching donor bone marrow. More than 70 percent of patients needing a transplant fail to undergo the procedure due to lack of a matching donor. The success of the procedure also requires cooperation of the patient and his family in order to cope successfully with the emotional and physical drain caused by this challenging treatment. It is advisable to seek medical help to cope with the transplant experience and fully regain normal physical and psychological health.

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    Malignant Bone Marrow Transplant Success Rates

    The success rate of BMT procedure has gone up substantially in recent years. There has been a marked improvement in care and support system which is so important in this exhausting procedure. The anti-biotic regimens have undergone a major change and there are other factors such as DNL-HLA typing that have led to an enhancement in the survival rates. It has been observed that in cases where the disease condition is not worsening or the disease has gone into remission, have a higher chance to survive compared to those that receive a transplant at a very advanced stage of the disease. The patient’s age also makes a key difference to the outcome of the transplant. Patients as well as donors with a CMV-negative status also have a higher chance of survival.

    If the bone marrow transplant is performed for a non-cancerous disease, the success rate of the procedure is very high, ranging anywhere between 70 and 90 percent if the donor is matching blood relative. However, if the patient and the donor are unrelated, the success rate may range between 35 and 65 percent. Transplant for malignant diseases such as acute leukemia which is in a state of remission has a success rate of anywhere between 55 and 68 percent if the donor and patient are related. In case they are not related, the success rate may range between 25 and 50 percent.

    However, in a majority of cases of pediatric cancers, the survival rate of an autologous transplant for a solid tumor is relatively lower. Similarly, in cases where the cancer has reached an advanced stage such as Stage IV, the survival rate is quite low with the BMT. A number of new regimens are being explored to improve the success rate of the transplant in advanced stages of the malignancy.