Laboratory and clinical risk assessment to treat myelodysplatic syndromes

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Abstract

Myelodisplastic syndromes (MDS) are heterogeneous myeloid disorders characterized by peripheral cytopenias and increased risk of transformation into acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). MDS are generally suspected in the presence of cytopenia on routine analysis and the evaluation of bone marrow cells morphology and cellularity leads to correct diagnosis of MDS. The incidence of MDS is approximately five cases per 100,000 people per year in the general population, but it increases up to 50 cases per 100,000 people per year after 60 years of age. Typically MDS affect the elderly, with a median age at diagnosis of 65-70 years. Here the current therapeutic approaches for MDS are evaluated by searching the PubMed database. Establishing the prognosis in MDS patients is a key element of therapy. In fact an accurate estimate of prognosis drives decisions about the choice and timing of the therapeutic options. Therapy is selected based on prognostic risk assessment, cytogenetic pattern, transfusion needs and biological characteristics of the disease, comorbidities and clinical condition of the patients. In lower-risk patients the goals of therapy are different from those in higher-risk patients. In lower-risk patients, the aim of therapy is to reduce transfusion needs and transformation to higher risk disease or AML, improving the quality of life and survival. In higher-risk patients, the main goal of therapy is to prolong survival and to reduce the risk of AML transformation. Current therapies include growth factor support, lenalidomide, immunomodulatory and hypomethylating agents, intensive chemotherapy, and allogenic stem cell transplantation. The challenge when dealing with MDS patients is to select the optimal treatment by balancing efficacy and toxicity.

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