Marrow Masters

If I Am over 60, Am I Too Old for a Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant?

Episode Summary

Age is nothing but a number. However, some patients mistakenly think they are too old for a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. Dr. Marco Mielcarek busts that myth, and talks about different types of transplants and the patients who have benefited from them.

Episode Notes

Time to bust another myth regarding age and transplant. Listeners will be relieved to hear about older patients receiving life-saving transplants and most often thriving post-transplant​.

The likelihood of being diagnosed with a hematologic malignancy (blood cancers: most leukemias, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, etc.) increases substantially above the age of 60.

In the past (more than 20 years ago), blood stem cell transplantation was mostly available to younger patients. However, that is NOT the case today.

Reduced-intensity transplants (developed in the 90's) have allowed treatment of older and/or medically infirm patients. The focus is more on the immunologic graft-vs-tumor effect than on high-dose upfront therapy.

This episode features Dr. Marco Mielcarek, a medical oncologist who is specialized in blood and marrow transplantation. He is a professor of medicine at the University of Washington and the Medical Director of the Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Dr. Marco explains autologous vs allogeneic transplant concept (patient’s own stem cell vs. cell from a donor --i.e. sibling or unrelated or other)

At SCCA, Dr. Marco explains, over the last 20 years, the median age of our transplants patients has increased by 13 years (currently: median age, 58 years). This means that half of our patients are older than 58. The oldest patient transplanted recently was 81 years old.

The information in this podcast should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your health care provider regarding your medical decisions and treatment. The listed resources are not intended to be endorsements.

For additional resources from the National Bone Marrow Transplant Link, visit us online at or call us at 800-546-5268.

This season of Marrow Masters is sponsored by the nbmtLINK, Seattle Genetics, and our esteemed link partners.