We analyzed the outcome of 537 adolescents (age 12-18 years) with idiopathic aplastic anemia included in the database of the Severe Aplastic Anemia Working Party of the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation comparing: i) matched family donor hematopoietic stem cell transplantation performed as firstline treatment with ii) front-line immunosuppressive therapy not followed by subsequent transplant given for failure and with iii) hematopoietic stem cell transplantation performed after failed front-line immunosuppressive therapy. Overall survival was 86% in the matched family donor hematopoietic stem cell transplantation group, 90% in patients given front-line immunosuppressive alone (those who did not fail this treatment and who did not receive subsequent rescue with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation) and 78% in subjects who underwent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation post failed front-line immunosuppressive therapy (P=0.14). Event-free survival in the same groups was respectively 83%, 64% and 71% (P=0.04). Cumulative incidence of rejection was 8% in matched family donor hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and 9% in transplants post failed front-line immunosuppression (P=0.62). Cumulative incidence of acute graft-versus-host disease was 12% in matched family donor transplants and 18% in transplants post failed immunosuppression (P=0.18). Chronic graft-versus-host disease was higher in matched family donor hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (8%) than in transplants post failed immunosuppressive therapy (20%) (P=0.0009). Cumulative incidence of post-therapy malignancies was 0.7% in matched family donor transplantations, 7% in transplantations post failed immunosuppression and 21% after front-line immunosuppression (P=0.0017). In the whole cohort, under multivariate analysis, the diagnosis to treatment interval of two months or under positively affected overall survival whereas up-front immunosuppression alone (with no subsequent rescue transplants) negatively affected event-free survival. In transplanted patients an interval from diagnosis to treatment of 2 months or under, bone marrow as source of cells and first-line matched family donor transplants provided a significant advantage in overall and event-free survival. Aplastic anemia in adolescents has a very good outcome. If a matched family donor is available, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation using bone marrow cells is the first choice treatment. If such a donor is not available, immunosuppressive treatment may still be an acceptable second choice, also because, in case of failure, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is a very good rescue option.
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