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Reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) regimens, improved HLA matching, and better supportive care allow allogeneic stem cell transplant (alloSCT) to be offered to older patients. Only a small percentage of eligible patients between ages 65 and 74 years actually undergo alloSCT, and comprehensive outcome data from the aging population are still lacking. We examined the outcome of older patients who underwent alloSCT using melphalan-based RIC for hematologic malignancies at our institution. We identified 125 patients older than 65 years (median, 69; range, 66 to 77) who underwent matched related donor, matched unrelated donor, or combined haploidentical/umbilical cord alloSCT between 2012 through November, 2017. Among them, 52 (41.6%) and 70 (56%) had, respectively, intermediate and high/very high Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) disease risk index (DRI). One hundred six patients (85%) received fludarabine/melphalan-based RIC regimen with either antithymocyte globulin (ATG) or alemtuzumab. The median time to neutrophil engraftment was 13 days (range, 8 to 37) and platelet engraftment 17 days (range, 9 to 169). The cumulative incidence of nonrelapse mortality was 11.5% at 100 days and 30.1% and 34.8% at 1 and 2 years, respectively. The cumulative incidence of relapse was 35% and 40% at 1 and 2 years. The cumulative incidence of grades II to IV acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) at day 100 and 6 months was 29.5% and 34.5%, and chronic GVHD at 6, 12, and 24 months was 2.5%, 5.2%, and 6.3%, respectively. With a median follow-up of 32 months, the 1-, 2-, and 3-year progression-free survival (PFS) was 34.6%, 24.4%, and 16.5%, respectively. The graft GVHD-free survival was 24.6%, 16.1%, and 9.3%, respectively. The 1-, 2-, and 3-year overall survival (OS) was 44.5%, 30.7%, and 26.5%, respectively. In multivariable analysis, low albumin was predictive of poor PFS and OS and high hematopoietic cell transplantation–specific comorbidity index, and CIBMTR DRI was predictive of worse graft GVHD-free survival. Among long-term survivors the median Karnofsky performance status was 80. Older patients, even when referred with advanced disease, can benefit from melphalan-based alloSCT with HLA-matched or alternative donor sources without discernible impact of donor source on outcome. Using alemtuzumab- or ATG-based in vivo T cell depletion, the incidence of chronic GVHD is extremely low. Performance status in survivors is excellent. Better predictors for outcome in this patient population need to be identified.

Original publication




Journal article


Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation

Publication Date





789 - 797