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06-16-2015, 05:18 PM
Charity calls for 'urgent action' as it reveals one in three bone marrow transplant patients won't survive first year
Medical News Today

One in three bone marrow transplant patients will die within a year of their transplant, according to a report by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, as it launches a campaign to improve survival rates and post-transplant care.1

The charity's Destination Cure report also estimated that one in five children who have a bone marrow transplant in the next five years won't survive beyond their first year.

The report also highlights that those patients living post-transplant can suffer a number of long-term and severe complications - including infection and Graft versus Host Disease - a side-effect that sees the transplant patient's new immune system attacking existing organs in the body - but that care offered to these patients needs improvement.

The Anthony Nolan report recognises the vital contribution of stem cell and bone marrow donation, but claims that 'much more needs to be done' by the Department of Health and the NHS to improve survival rates and quality of life after a transplant.

In particular, the report pinpoints the need for more resource and capacity within individual transplant centres to support clinical trials and research.

Anthony Nolan, which runs a world-renowned Research Institute as well as the UK's bone marrow register, today warns of the 'heart-breaking' consequences of these financial and bureaucratic obstacles.

Dr Chloe Anthias, Medical Director of Anthony Nolan, said: "Medical research and clinical trials are essential in developing and improving the care of stem cell transplant patients, as well as our understanding of why some patients do not survive, despite our best efforts.

"However, due to small patient cohorts and a complex regulatory environment, researchers and transplant centres find it difficult to recruit enough patients for clinical trials. As a result, we are missing out on important insights into the factors that determine whether a patient survives and their quality of life. The consequences can be heart-breaking for families who have got this far on their transplant journey, only to die due to relapse or post-transplant complications."

The new report sets out the priorities for healthcare decision makers to address, in order to improve patient outcomes after a stem cell transplant.

These include:

Investing in ground-breaking research into stem cell transplantation so that the research community can identify the factors that affect transplant survival rates

Establishing a national stem cell transplantation clinical trials network across UK transplant centres to ensure that innovative, potentially life-saving new therapies are translated into clinical practice

Establishing a fully-funded national care pathway for all transplant patients for at least five years after transplant, to ensure that all patients can access the high quality care they need, for as long as they need it.

Between 2015 and 2020, over 11,000 people with blood cancer or a blood disorder will need a stem cell transplant from a stranger.3

Of these, one in eight will not receive the lifesaving transplant they need because no donor is available for them, according to the Destination Cure report4. These odds are even lower for patients from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, who are more than 3 times less likely to find a 10/10 match on the register.5

Dr Anthias added: "Survival rates are far from where they should be. But without a transplant to offer a potential cure, the chances of survival for these patients are far lower. We're now working towards a future where the destination for all transplant patients is a cure.

"Innovations in transplant medicine, clinical practice and patient care, combined with improved genetic matching of patients and donors, are the key to improving outcomes and saving more lives of people with blood cancer."

The report follows the recent news that Anthony Nolan has become the first donor registry in the world to invest in an advanced new method of tissue typing, which research has shown could 'significantly' improve stem cell transplant outcomes.