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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 1997 Apr;3(1):18-24.

Comparison of long-term outcome of children with severe aplastic anemia treated with immunosuppression versus bone marrow transplantation.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.


Children with severe aplastic anemia (SAA) are treated with bone marrow transplantation (BMT) if a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) compatible sibling donor is available, or alternatively with immunosuppressive therapy (IST). Three retrospective trials examining BMT vs IST in pediatric patients treated from 1970-1988 found BMT resulted in a superior survival rate. Advances have been made in general supportive care and in the approach to each of these treatment modalities in the last decade. To compare survival following BMT and IST in a more recent era, we retrospectively analyzed the results of 48 consecutively treated children with SAA presenting to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) between 1983 and 1992. In contrast to the previous studies, the estimated survival of the BMT and IST groups at 120 months are equivalent, 75.6% and 73.8%, respectively. The IST results in our series are superior to the 42-48% (2-10 year) survival previously published, but similar to survival data observed in more recent IST trials employing more intensive immunosuppression (antithymocyte globulin and cyclosporine). The overall BMT survival rates are similar to those previously published, although BMT results improved dramatically during the latter five years of this analysis, with all 11 patients transplanted surviving with a minimum follow-up of 3 years. No surviving BMT patient has extensive chronic graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), a major cause of long-term mortality post-BMT. Therefore, it is likely the BMT survival curve will remain stable. In contrast, the survival curve of the IST patients is likely unstable, since patients are still at risk for relapse or development of clonal disease. Thus, despite overall similar survival rates, we continue to recommend BMT as first-line therapy in pediatric SAA patients with matched sibling donors.

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