In a new study, researchers from Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal and the University of Montreal (UM) followed 92 patients who were diagnosed with multiple myeloma between 2001 and 2010.
Multiple myeloma is a type of bone marrow cancer that forms in the plasma cells (a type of white blood cell). This type of cancer cannot be cured with traditional forms of chemotherapy and carries an average life expectancy of 6 to 7 years.
Researchers used a therapeutic approach, in which patients were treated with an autograft to lessen the mass of their tumors. An autograft is a bone or tissue sample taken from part of the patient's own body and transplanted into another.
A family allograft was conducted a few months later using immunotherapy. An allograft involves using a family donor's immune cells to rid the patient's bone marrow of myeloma cells.
This method resulted in an overall cure rate of 41 percent. Additionally, a 60 percent relapse-free survival rate was seen after sixth months.
Although 50 percent of the patients in this study eventually relapsed, researchers found that 50 percent were still alive five years after treatment. The rate of mortality among patients who used this approach for 10 years was 10 percent.
Lead study author Jean Roy, PhD, a professor of hematology at UM, said in a press release, "In many hospitals, doctors have abandoned the use of allografts for multiple myeloma due to the risk of toxicity and relapse. Our results, on the other hand, have led us to offer the treatment to more patients, especially younger patients and those with poorer prognoses."
The American Cancer Society predicts that around 30,330 Americans will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2016. Around 12,650 multiple myeloma deaths are estimated to occur this year.
This study was published Feb. 5 in the journal Bone Marrow Transplantation.
It was supported by the University of Montreal's William Brock Fund. Conflict of interest information was not available at the time of publication.