Single institution outcomes of treatment of severe aplastic anaemia

P Mollee, N Woodward, S Durrant, L Lockwood, E A Gillett, J Morton, J Rowell
Internal Medicine Journal 2001, 31 (6): 337-42

BACKGROUND: In severe aplastic anaemia, the treatment of choice for young patients with a human leucocyte antigen-matched sibling is now established as allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). In older patients and in those without a matched sibling donor, immunosuppressive therapy is the usual first option. 'Alternative' marrow donors are emerging as an option for those without a matched sibling donor.

AIMS: To review 10 years of local experience in treating severe aplastic anaemia with BMT and immunosuppressive therapy with emphasis on long-term outcomes.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis was performed of all patients with severe aplastic anaemia presenting to the Royal Brisbane and Royal Children's Hospitals between 1989 and 1999. Data were abstracted regarding patient demographics, pretreatment characteristics and outcome measures, including response rates, overall survival and long-term complications.

RESULTS: Twenty-seven consecutive patients were identified, 12 treated with immunosuppression alone and 15 with BMT. In these two groups, transfusion independence was attained in 25% and 100%, respectively, with overall survival being 36% and 100%, respectively. Those treated with immunosuppression were significantly older (median 41.5 versus 22 years, P = 0.008). Long-term survivors of either treatment had extremely low morbidity. Three patients carried pregnancies to term post-transplant. Three patients received alternative donor BMT with correspondingly excellent survival.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients treated with allogeneic BMT for severe aplastic anaemia enjoyed extremely good long-term survival and minimal morbidity. Patients treated with immunosuppressive therapy had a poorer outcome reflecting their older age and different usage of therapies over the past decade. Optimal treatment strategies for severe aplastic anaemia remain to be determined.

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