Between May 1994 and May 2000, we autotransplanted 48 consecutive patients, 21 females and 27 males aged over 60 years (range: 60-78, median: 63). Sixteen patients had multiple myeloma (MM), 14 high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (HGNHL), six low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (LGNHL), nine acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), one Hodgkin's disease (HD) and one breast cancer; the performance status (WHO) was 0-1. Seventeen patients were in 1st CR (35.4%) and one in 2nd CR (2.1%), 25 in PR (52.1%), while five patients had been transplanted with progressive disease (10.4%); seven patients with MM received a double transplant. Patients received high-dose therapy including melphalan alone (13) or associated with other drugs (26), busulfan-cyclophosphamide (three), BEAM (11) and TBI (two). All patients took a median of 11 (range: 8-25) days to reach neutrophils >500/μl, 13 (range: 9-83) days to reach platelets >20000/μl and 17 (range: 11-83) days to reach platelets >50000/μl. Hematological toxicity, hospital stay and supportive care did not differ from those of a cohort of younger patients. At present, 31 patients are alive (14 in CR, five in PR, five in PD and seven in relapse) and 16 died from PD at a median follow-up of 37 months (1-67). Only one patient died from transplant-related toxicity. Quality of life, evaluated using a QLQ-C30 questionnaire in 25 patients at day +90, was good. In our experience PBPC mobilization and transplantation is feasible in patients aged ≥60 years and the toxicity of this procedure is acceptable, with an early transplant-related mortality of 1.8%; therefore patients with hematological malignancies potentially curable with high-dose therapy (HDT) should also be candidates for HDT.
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