Superiority of prolonged low-dose azanucleoside administration? Results of 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine retreatment in high-risk myelodysplasia patients

Cancer. 2006 Apr 15;106(8):1744-50. doi: 10.1002/cncr.21796.


Background: The optimal treatment duration with decitabine (DAC) in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) remains a matter of debate. Although at least 2 consolidating courses after best response usually are performed, the response to treatment after disease recurrence has not been systematically studied to date.

Methods: In the current study, the authors report on 22 of 108 patients with MDS (20%) treated with low-dose DAC in 3 Phase II trials who received DAC as retreatment at the time of disease recurrence.

Results: According to the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) at the time of initial treatment, 5 of 22 patients (23%) had a score of intermediate-1 (Int-1), 4 patients (18%) had a score of Int-2, and 13 patients (59%) were scored as high-risk. Patients initially received a median of 6 courses of DAC (range, 2 courses-6 courses), which resulted in a complete remission (complete response [CR]) in 12 of the 22 patients (55%). Retreatment with DAC at the time of disease recurrence was initiated at a median of 11 months (range, 3 mos-27 mos) after the last course of initial treatment. With regard to DAC retreatment, patients received a median of 3 courses (range, 1 courses-6 courses), with 10 of 22 patients (45%) responding (1 with a CR and 2 with partial remissions [partial response (PR)]; all 3 patients achieved a CR at the time of initial treatment) and 7 patients demonstrating a hematologic improvement (HI) (at the time of initial treatment there were 2 CRs, 4 PRs, and 1 HI). Twelve of the 22 patients (55%) did not demonstrate any objective responses to retreatment, including 4 patients with primary resistance to the first course of retreatment. The median survival of all patients from the initiation of the first DAC course was 27.5 months (range, 15 mos-50+ mos). The median survival of 43 patients who also had achieved a response to the initial treatment with DAC but who received best supportive care (n = 33 patients) or induction chemotherapy (n = 10 patients) was 18 months (range, 5 mos-72 mos). Second responders to DAC retreatment were found less frequently in the IPSS high-risk group compared with nonresponders (40% vs. 83%). Age, French-American-British classification subtype, serum lactate dehydrogenase level at retreatment, and previous response to DAC were not found to strongly differ between the groups; however, the subgroups were too small to perform a statistical analysis.

Conclusions: Retreatment with DAC was found to result in objective responses in 45% of previously DAC-responsive patients. However, the quality and duration of the second disease remissions were found to be inferior. Therefore, DAC-responsive patients might derive more clinical benefit from continuation of the initial treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage*
  • Azacitidine / administration & dosage
  • Azacitidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Decitabine
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / drug therapy*
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / mortality
  • Recurrence
  • Retreatment
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Decitabine
  • Azacitidine