Standard front-line treatment for acquired aplastic anemia (AA) for patients is either immunosuppressive therapy (IST) or bone marrow transplantation (BMT), usually from an HLA identical sibling. Whereas long-term survival is comparable with either treatment, important differences remain: IST patients may have incomplete or no recovery, are exposed to late clonal disorders and relapse of the original disease. Transplantation is a curative treatment, but patients are exposed to transplant-related complications both acute and chronic, such as chronic graft versus host disease (cGvHD). In the year 2000, a study by the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT), looked at failure free survival (FFS), in patients receiving first-line BMT from an HLA identical sibling, or the first-line IST. Young patients with low neutrophil counts benefited of the first-line BMT; the opposite was true for older patients with higher neutrophil counts; and a third intermediate group of patients had comparable survival irrespective of the first-line therapy. We have now studied a more recent cohort of patients to assess whether things have changed over the years. We have found similar results, although overall survival has improved, as a consequence of changes in the IST and BMT protocols.
- aplastic anemia