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Cancer Genetics

Cord Blood Storage for Cancer Survivor

12/13/2004

Question:

My daughter was treated with chemotherapy and radiation for Hodgkin`s disease when she was 22. She is now 28, healthy, and pregnant. But we understand that she is probably at higher than average risk for a second cancer due to her treatments and because she`s already had Hodgkin`s. Should she store her newborn`s cord blood as a future source of stem cells for herself in the event of a relapse or occurrence of another form of cancer? Or should she store the cord blood for her child`s possible future need? She will donate it to a cord blood bank if it`s not recommended that she store it for her own family`s possible use.

Answer:

Whether or not her child's cord blood will be useful for herself will depend on a number of factors, many of which cannot be predicted at this time.  First of all, whether her child's cord blood will be useful to her will depend on whether there is a "match" in the child's blood type and her own blood type.  This information will only be available after her child is born (most likely).  Secondly, even though she is at somewhat increased risk for a second cancer, the type of cancer she might develop will also determine whether the cord blood will be useful for her.  I would encourage her to talk with her oncologist and discuss this matter in more detail.

As for the usefulness of the cord blood for the child, again, it will depend on whether the child actually develops a cancer that can be treated with stored cord blood.  The chances are fairly low, but certainly it could be useful.  Your daughter should consider first of all the chance the child will develop a condition for which cord blood could be used, and balance this with the cost of cord banking, and the likelihood of finding a cord blood sample with a blood type match to the child.  Unfortunately, determining the chances of each of these things is going to be difficult to determine.  The bottom line is, does your daughter feel the cost might be balanced by the usefulness of having cord blood stored.

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Response by:

Duane D Culler, PhD, MS Duane D Culler, PhD, MS
Clinical Instructor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University