Unrelated allogeneic stem cell transplant may benefit patients with AML who are at a high risk of developing cancer progression following standard therapy according to a recent article published in the journal Blood.
Characterized by the rapid, uncontrolled growth of immature white blood cells known as myelocytes, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood. The average age of diagnosis is more than 65 year old, although anyone young or old can develop the condition.
Defined as the disappearance of leukemia cells in the bone marrow and normalization of the red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet levels, the goal is to achieve remission with a treatment protocol consisting of induction therapy (initial treatment) that includes chemotherapy. In order to reduce the likelihood of leukemia recurrence, patients generally receive additional treatment (consolidation therapy) following their completion of the induction therapy. Consolidation therapy can range from less aggressive to extremely aggressive depending on the patient’s existing medical conditions, age, or prognosis of the leukemia.
Involving the use of high doses of therapy, which kill a greater amount of cancer cells than standard doses, an allogeneic stem cell transplant is considered an extremely aggressive treatment option. The patient’s susceptibility to the need for blood transfusions, bleeding, and infection, is increased by the high doses of therapy which cause a significant reduction in blood cells. Life-threatening infections can be a result of these high doses of therapy.
Following high-dose therapy, stem cells are collected from a donor and infused into the patient to restore the levels of blood cells. Stem cells are immature blood cells. The patient’s cancer cells can also be attacked by these donor stem cells. A potentially life-threatening condition called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) can also be caused by the donor cells since there is a chance that they can attack a patient