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Original article

Vol. 154 No. 5 (2024)

Allogeneic haematopoietic cell transplantation for chronic myeloid leukaemia in Switzerland in the face of rapid development of effective drugs: A report from the Swiss Blood Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Group

  • Dominik Heim
  • Helen Baldomero
  • Michael Medinger
  • Stavroula Masouridi-Levrat
  • Urs Schanz
  • Gayathri Nair
  • Tayfun Güngör
  • Jörg Halter
  • Jakob R. Passweg
  • Yves Chalandon
  • Swiss Stem Cell Transplantation Group (SBST)
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2024;154:3754


AIM: Until the year 2000, allogeneic haematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) was the standard treatment for young and fit chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients. CML was the main indication for allogeneic HCT. The introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors changed the treatment of CML patients dramatically. Allogeneic HCT was rapidly replaced by tyrosine kinase inhibitors as first-line treatment for CML, and the indication shifted to the treatment of non-responders, patients intolerant to tyrosine kinase inhibitors and patients whose CML is transforming to the accelerated phase and blast crisis. This paper describes changes in the use of transplantation technology for CML patients in the face of rapid drug development.

METHODS: All patients receiving a transplant for CML between 1997 and 2021 in Switzerland were included in the study. For the purpose of this analysis, time periods were analysed in quinquennia, 1997–2001 (Q1), 2002–2006 (Q2), 2007–2011 (Q3), 2012–2016 (Q4) and 2017–2021 (Q5), as the observation period spanned 25 years.

RESULTS: Overall, 239 patients received a transplant. These included 96 in Q1, 56 in Q2, 25 in Q3, 34 in Q4 and 28 in Q5. Patient characteristics changed over time: recent patients were older and had a longer interval from diagnosis to transplantation because of tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment. However, the proportions of patients receiving transplants during an early versus advanced disease stage differed little. Transplant technology changed, as well. Patients received intensive conditioning regimens less often due to higher age and more commonly had peripheral blood as opposed to bone marrow transplants. However, the type of stem cell donor selected did not differ. In a univariable analysis, there were no significant differences in survival, progression-free survival, non-relapse mortality, relapse incidence or incidences of acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease among the five quinquennia. In a multivariable analysis, older age, donors other than HLA-identical siblings and more advanced disease stage, but not the quinquennium, were associated with higher risk of death.

CONCLUSION: Since the introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors haematopoietic cell transplantation has been used less frequently to treat CML. Patients in recent cohorts received transplants at an older age and later in the disease course; despite these higher risks, the outcome of allogeneic HCT has not worsened over time but has not improved, either. As the outcome is worse in advanced phases, it is important to conduct transplants before disease progression. Therefore, patients with advanced disease should be monitored closely and receive transplants in time.


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