Thalidomide Therapy in Adult Patients With Myelodysplastic Syndrome: A North Central Cancer Treatment Group phase II trial

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Thalidomide has shown promise for the treatment of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome. The current prospective multicenter study examined the efficacy and toxicity of thalidomide in adult patients with myelodysplastic syndrome.


Using the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS), patients were stratified into 2 groups: favorable (IPSS score, 0–1.0) or unfavorable (IPSS score, 1.5–3.5). Seventy-two patients (42 of whom were favorable and 30 of whom were unfavorable) received a starting dose of oral thalidomide of 200 mg daily. The dose was increased by 50 mg per week to a targeted maximum daily dose of 1000 mg.


According to the International Working Group response criteria for myelodysplastic syndrome, 1 patient in the unfavorable group achieved a partial remission with a complete cytogenetic response. Overall, 2 patients (5%) in the favorable group and 4 patients (14%) in the unfavorable group experienced either a hematologic improvement or a partial response. The most frequent Grade 3 or 4 (grading was based on the National Cancer Institute's Common Toxicity Criteria [version 2.0]) nonhematologic adverse events were fatigue (24%), infection (19%), neuropathy (13%), dyspnea (8%), and constipation (7%).


Thalidomide alone, at the schedule and dose levels used in the current study, is not a safe and viable therapeutic option for patients with myelodysplastic syndrome. Limited efficacy and increased toxicity were observed in the current Phase II trial.


Thalidomide alone demonstrated very limited activity in unselected patients with myelodysplastic syndrome. At the schedule and dose levels used in the current study, it is not a safe and viable therapeutic option.

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