How Old is Too Old for BMT (bone marrow transplantation)?

Last Modified: November 27, 2005

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Can you tell me what the age cutoff is for BMT? It seems to be increasing, and I was wondering if there is a standard.

Thank you.

Answer

Deana Potts, MSN, CRNP, Advanced Practice Oncology Nurse, responds:

There is no standard age cutoff for Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplants.

An autologous (self-donor) bone marrow/stem cell transplant is practical into the mid-60s, although the upper age limit continues to be expanded into the 70s, depending on the disease, the therapy, and the general health of the patient.

A full myeloablative allogeneic (non-self donor marrow) bone marrow/stem cell transplant is for the most part impractical in patients beyond their mid-50s because of its toxicity, although the upper age limit here is also expanding slightly.

However, a non-myeloablative allogeneic bone marrow/stem cell transplant (sometimes called a "mini-allo") has a different age cutoff. Patients have traditionally undergone these transplants well into their 60's and 70's, depending on the individual, disease, and donor source.