nbmtLINK - National Bone Marrow Transplant Link
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Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant Frequently Asked Questions
Helpful information for patients, caregivers and families
(Bilingual Spanish/English)

7. Where can I find information about survival rates?

This is a common question with a complex answer. Survival rates are numbers that are statistical estimates. Although statistics cannot predict outcomes for any particular individual, they are very useful for making treatment decisions and in understanding how a large group of people with a certain condition will fare over time.

There are many factors that influence how well someone will do, including age, disease, overall health, and previous treatments. Given recent advances, an increasing number of older individuals are receiving transplants now. When looking at survival statistics, it is important to remember that the existing data reflect statistics that are several years old and may not reflect your situation. Survival rate information is often presented in a complex way, geared to an audience of health professionals. A good resource for understanding survival data is Understanding Survival Outcomes Data on the Be the Match website. (See Resource Listing)

Keep in mind when looking at information on treatment outcomes for a particular disease or for a type of transplant, it is important to consider factors such as the age of the patients in the study, the type of disease being treated, and the number of people in the study. The results of a study that was done that looked at outcomes for people in their twenties and thirties, for example, will not be applicable to a person in their sixties. Similarly, the results of a study on a group of people undergoing a transplant from a related donor may not be applicable to a person who is getting a transplant from an unrelated donor.

It will be helpful to share any information you gather with your health professionals, as they can help you interpret the data and its relevance to your situation.

Keep in mind that the patient, family members, and friends all deal with the stress of transplant differently. While one person may cope by gathering every available piece of information on treatment and survival statistics, another might feel overwhelmed and may choose not to look at journal articles, graphs, and charts or may allocate this task to a trusted friend or relative. This is also a perfectly acceptable way of coping.

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