10 October 2018

Some low-risk patients with myelodysplastic syndrome could safely delay the introduction of blood transfusions, a Swedish researcher has reported.

In her PhD research at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Dr Hege Garelius investigated treatment options for lower risk myelodysplastic syndrome patients.

She explains in her PhD thesis that traditional treatment does not recommend starting the patient on erythropoiesis-stimulating agents until the blood count reaches a critical value.

Dr Garelius, who is also a senior consultant at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden, used information on 1,800 patients with low-risk myelodysplastic syndrome in 17 European countries.

She showed that those who were quickly treated with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents needed their first blood transfusion after 23 months on average, compared with six months for patients who were not started on the drugs until after their first transfusion.

Her research suggests that it's possible to postpone the introduction of blood transfusions for an average of 17 months for patients with the low-risk variant of myelodysplastic syndrome blood cancer, provided they are given erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, which stimulate the body to produce red blood cells.

Dr Garelius said “What we see in this study is that if you want the benefits of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, they should be administered before the need for transfusions is a fact, starting when the blood values are reaching levels that are getting close to a transfusion need.”

Dr Garelius believes that this way, patients can avoid going to the hospital every two or three weeks, and also reduce the side-effects caused by a surplus of iron in the body that is stored in organs such as the heart and liver.

 Source: Garelius, H.K.G., (2018) “Registry studies on myelodysplastic syndrome and secondary acute myeloid leukaemia.” PhD Thesis, University of Gothenburg, available at: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/54961


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