What is the role of cytotoxic chemotherapy in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)?

Updated: Jul 24, 2018
  • Author: Emmanuel C Besa, MD; Chief Editor: Koyamangalath Krishnan, MD, FRCP, FACP  more...
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Answer

Cytotoxic chemotherapy is used in patients with MDS who have increasing myeloblasts and those who have progressed to acute leukemia. The usual combination treatment is cytarabine plus an anthracycline, which yields a limited response rate of 30-40%. Elderly patients experience high rates of morbidity and mortality with this approach and should consider treatment with the hypomethylating agent azacytidine, which has been shown to improve survival compared with either supportive or aggressive therapy and is approved for use in MDS by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


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