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More African Americans can get blood or marrow transplant

Study shows half-matched and cord blood transplants are acceptable

Age18-70 years old
Number of Participants367
Research GoalImprove Survival
Only 1 in 5 African Americans who need a blood or marrow transplant (BMT) can find a matched donor. A transplant from a half-matched or cord blood donor also can help, a new study shows. This may allow more African Americans to get a life-saving transplant. 

Researchers looked at medical records of about 370 African Americans who got BMT for a blood cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome. There were two types of transplants: half-matched (haploidentical) or cord blood

What are half-matched and cord blood transplants? 

  • A half-matched donor is usually your mom, your dad or your child; and sometimes your brother or sister. 
  • Umbilical cord blood is donated after a baby is born. Cord blood is often thrown away. But, it can be donated and used for a life-saving transplant. 

Which kind is better? 

Two years after transplant, people in both groups (half-matched and cord blood) had equal chances of being alive and cancer-free. However, the group that got cord blood was more likely to have a bad effect called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). 

This might be because the people who got a half-matched transplant also got a medicine to called cyclophosphamide, which prevents GVHD. This medicine is not usually used with cord blood

Another group of researchers is studying whether this medicine can be used with cord blood

Keep in mind 

Overall, this was a small study. However, it is still the largest of its kind so far. More research is needed. 

Also, it’s helpful for people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to consider donating blood and marrow, so more people can find a matched donor. 

Ask your doctor 

What treatment is best for me? 

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