Outcome of patients with low-risk and intermediate-1-risk myelodysplastic syndrome after hypomethylating agent failure: a report on behalf of the MDS Clinical Research Consortium

Cancer. 2015 Mar 15;121(6):876-82. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29145. Epub 2014 Nov 19.


Background: The hypomethylating agents (HMAs) azacitidine and decitabine are most commonly used to treat patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). To the authors' knowledge, the prognosis of patients with low-risk and intermediate-1-risk MDS by the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) after HMA failure has not been explored comprehensively.

Methods: The clinical characteristics and treatment outcome of 438 patients with low-risk and intermediate-1-risk MDS who were treated with HMAs were retrospectively analyzed.

Results: Using the International Working Group response criteria, the overall objective response to HMA was 35% with a median of 6 cycles of HMA administered, and the median response duration was 7 months. Only 7% of patients had disease that transformed into acute myeloid leukemia while receiving therapy. Of the 290 patients who were evaluable at the time of HMA failure, 77% remained in the lower-risk disease categories. On multivariate analysis, baseline neutropenia, intermediate-risk and poor-risk baseline karyotype, and lack of response to HMA were found to be independently associated with a higher risk of disease progression. With a median follow-up of 16 months, the median transformation-free survival and overall survival (OS) after HMA failure were 15 months and 17 months, respectively. On multivariate analysis, only The University of Texas MD Anderson Global Scoring System was found to be independently predictive of outcome, with patients with higher-risk categories having poor transformation-free survival (hazards ratio [HR], 1.5; P = .003) and OS (HR, 1.8; P = .002). The administration of salvage therapy was independently associated with better OS only (HR, 0.8; P = .01).

Conclusions: Outcomes of patients with lower-risk MDS after HMA failure are poor and the treatment of these patients remains an unmet medical need. OS is a reasonable primary endpoint for clinical studies targeting this population.

Keywords: hypomethylating agent failure; low-risk; myelodysplastic syndrome; survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / drug therapy*
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / pathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic