A prospectively registered observational study was conducted to assess the significance of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from highly HLA-matched unrelated donors (UD) and cord blood (CB) on outcomes in adult acute leukemia (AL) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Between 2007 and 2015, 231 transplant-eligible patients were registered for a phase 2 study of alternative donor transplantation. After registration, a sufficient time period was given to find appropriate UD. Patients received CB transplantation (CBT) if an appropriate UD was unavailable. In total, 119 patients received CBT (106 AL and 13 MDS) and 91 patients received UD transplantation (UDT) (86 AL and 5 MDS). The median age was 39 years in both groups. The primary objective was overall survival (OS); secondary objectives included cumulative incidences of non-relapse mortality (NRM) and relapse, and disease-free survival. Diagnosis, disease status at transplantation, refined disease risk index, and hematopoietic cell transplant-specific comorbidity index did not differ between UDT and CBT. In multivariate analyses, graft source was not a significant risk factor for all objectives. In adjusted analyses, UDT and CBT showed similar OS, NRM, and relapse in this prospective study. CB can be a comparable alternative stem cell source to UD by achieving a timely transplant.
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