A large, nationwide study published in the journal JAMA Oncology found that people who received transplants of cells collected from a donor’s bone marrow the original source for blood stem cell transplants, developed decades ago had better self-reported psychological well-being, experienced fewer symptoms of a common post-transplant side effect called graft-vs.-host disease and were more likely to be back at work five years after transplantation than those whose transplanted cells were taken from the donor’s bloodstream.
“We’re hoping that once we provide information about long-term quality of life and recovery, patients and their doctors can take this into account when they’re planning their transplants,” said lead author Dr. Stephanie Lee of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She noted that the results would only be applicable to transplant patients who are similar to those enrolled in the trial.
The study also showed that there was no difference in overall survival, treatment-related death or relapse between the two groups of study participants. Lee said that this result would reassure the many patients for whom survival is the top concern.
“There are many ways to do a transplant. Choosing a source of stem cells is just one decision. But anything that improves the success of transplant can help future patients,” she said.
The study included 551 people between age 16 and 66 with leukemia or certain other blood malignancies who needed to receive a transplant of blood-forming stem cells from an unrelated donor. The patients were randomly assigned to one of the two types of transplants. From 6 months to five years after the transplant, study researchers called the participants periodically to assess how they were doing.