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Has umbilical cord blood transplantation for AML become mainstream?

Ballen, Karen K.b; Barker, Juliet N.a

Current Opinion in Hematology: March 2013 - Volume 20 - Issue 2 - p 144–149
doi: 10.1097/MOH.0b013e32835dd936
MYELOID DISEASE: Edited by Martin S. Tallman

Purpose of review We discuss outcomes after umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation (UCBT) for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and compare these outcomes to results after transplantation of other allogeneic graft sources.

Recent findings Survival after UCBT has improved considerably over the past 10 years. Multiple retrospective studies using either myeloablative or reduced intensity conditioning have shown disease-free survival after UCBT that is comparable to that of matched related or unrelated donors. Improved unit selection, conditioning, graft manipulation, and supportive care are all emerging strategies to further improve outcomes, although disease status and center expertise remain key components of successful UCBT outcome.

Summary UCBT should be considered in all high-risk AML patients in whom allogeneic stem cell transplantation is indicated but who lack a matched related or unrelated donor. UCBT can thereby now be thought of as a ‘mainstream’ treatment of high-risk AML.

aMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York

bMassachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence to Karen Ballen, MD, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Zero Emerson, Suite 118, Boston, MA 02114, USA. Tel: +1 617 724 1124; fax: +1 617 724 1126; e-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.