How Old is Too Old for BMT (bone marrow transplantation)?

Last Modified: November 27, 2005

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Can you tell me what the age cutoff is for BMT? It seems to be increasing, and I was wondering if there is a standard.

Thank you.


Deana Potts, MSN, CRNP, Advanced Practice Oncology Nurse, responds:

There is no standard age cutoff for Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplants.

An autologous (self-donor) bone marrow/stem cell transplant is practical into the mid-60s, although the upper age limit continues to be expanded into the 70s, depending on the disease, the therapy, and the general health of the patient.

A full myeloablative allogeneic (non-self donor marrow) bone marrow/stem cell transplant is for the most part impractical in patients beyond their mid-50s because of its toxicity, although the upper age limit here is also expanding slightly.

However, a non-myeloablative allogeneic bone marrow/stem cell transplant (sometimes called a "mini-allo") has a different age cutoff. Patients have traditionally undergone these transplants well into their 60's and 70's, depending on the individual, disease, and donor source.

Umbilical cord blood from an unrelated donor appears to be a viable transplant option

Jun 17, 2010 - Unrelated donor umbilical cord blood appears to result in similar outcomes as allele-matched bone marrow and peripheral blood progenitor cell transplants for adults with leukemia, and may be a viable alternative when matches for the second two options cannot be found, according to research published online June 16 in The Lancet Oncology.

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