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Equality of access to transplant for ethnic minority patients

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Published: 17.12.13
Views: 3252

Dr Robert Lown - Royal Marsden Hospital, London, UK

Dr Lown talks to ecancertv at ASH 2013. It is well accepted that patients of ethnic minorities who lack a sibling donor are poorly represented on the international unrelated donor panels. As recently as 2000, only 30% of such patients were able to find an unrelated donor suitable for transplantation. 

Continued expansion of the international donor inventory, and the advent of cord blood and haploidentical transplantation has improved the prospects for transplantation for such patients and, through the expertise of search staff within donor registries and histocompatibility laboratories, transplant centres are increasingly able to identify early on those patients who are unlikely to find a well-matched unrelated adult donor.

Surprisingly, however, few contemporary data have been published to show the impact of these search strategies and alternative stem cell sources on provision of transplant to those of non-white Northern European origin.


Dr Lown's study has shown that the chance of receiving a transplant for patients of a non-white Northern European (WNE) descent has improved considerably compared to historical literature. The majority of non-WNE patients were able to find a 9 or 10/10 matched donor, and many of those who could not were afforded the option of a cord blood or haploidentical donor transplant within a similar timescale. Whilst times to transplant do remain slightly longer for non-WNE patients, mainly due to a more protracted CT stage, they now stand an equal chance of reaching transplant.

However, whether survival following transplant is similar between ethnic groups remains to be seen.

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