Autologous stem cell transplantation after high-dose melphalan for the treatment with multiple myeloma has resulted in prolonged progression-free survival and overall survival in patients under 65 years. We have examined the role of autologous transplantation in 17 patients with multiple myeloma over 65 years at our centre using a matched pair analysis with younger patients. The median age of this cohort of patients over 65 years was 67 years (65-74) and their outcome and transplant-related morbidity was compared with 17 younger pair mates with a median age of 55 years (31-64). Sixteen patients received high-dose melphalan, and one received busulphan with autologous stem cell rescue. The high-dose therapy was well tolerated in both elderly patients and the matched pairs, with comparable time to recover neutrophils and platelets. Treatment-related mortality also did not differ significantly in both the groups. Median overall survival of the elderly patients was 3.59 years similar to 3.01 years of the pair mates (P = 0.92). Autologous stem cell transplantation after high-dose melphalan conditioning was equally well tolerated in groups of patients above and below 65 years. There was no difference in relapse rate, OS and myelotoxicity in both the groups. These findings suggest that advanced age should not be an exclusion criterion from autologous transplant programmes.
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