Rates of black or minority ethnic (BAME) people finding stem cell donors for blood cancer treatment could be nearing those for white people, a new study has revealed.
The combined effects of scientific developments and increasing public awareness appear to be equalising opportunities for people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, such as the Asian and Afro-Caribbean populations, for whom it is much harder to find a suitable match.
While the chances of BAME patients finding a transplant match on the register have doubled over the last 15 years, from 30% to 60%, the rates would still be lower than those for people of White Northern European (WNE) origin, which is currently at 96%. However, the report found that recent developments in cord and haploidentical transplantation have raised match opportunities for BAME people to WNE levels.
Dr Robert Lown, of Anthony Nolan and the University of College London Cancer Institute, explained the report as a chance to celebrate getting more people to the transplant stage of treatment.
“It’s like a lottery; if you buy a million tickets you’re more likely to win the jackpot. Worldwide, registries are much bigger now and we are beginning to see the benefits. Combine these bigger registry numbers with the large strides being made in cord and ‘haplo’ half-match treatments – which are vital in making up the shortfall in suitable donors for BAME patients – and we find that the situation for people of all ethnicities is getting better.”