Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents significantly delay the onset of a regular transfusion need in nontransfused patients with lower-risk myelodysplastic syndrome

J Intern Med. 2017 Mar;281(3):284-299. doi: 10.1111/joim.12579. Epub 2016 Dec 7.


Background: The EUMDS registry is an unique prospective, longitudinal observational registry enrolling newly diagnosed patients with lower-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) from 17 European countries from both university hospitals and smaller regional hospitals.

Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the usage and clinical impact of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in 1696 patients enrolled between 2008 and 2014.

Methods: The effects of ESAs on outcomes were assessed using proportional hazards models weighting observations by propensity to receive ESA treatment within a subset of anaemic patients with or without a regular transfusion need.

Results: ESA treatment (median duration of 27.5 months, range 0-77 months) was administered to 773 patients (45.6%). Outcomes were assessed in 897 patients (484 ESA treated and 413 untreated). ESA treatment was associated with a nonsignificant survival benefit (HR 0.82, 95% CI: 0.65-1.04, P = 0.09); this benefit was larger amongst patients without prior transfusions (P = 0.07). Amongst 539 patients for whom response to ESA treatment could be defined, median time to first post-ESA treatment transfusion was 6.1 months (IQR: 4.3-15.9 months) in those transfused before ESA treatment compared to 23.3 months (IQR: 7.0-47.8 months) in patients without prior transfusions (HR 2.4, 95% CI: 1.7-3.3, P < 0.0001). Responding patients had a better prognosis in terms of a lower risk of death (HR 0.65, 95% CI: 0.45-0.893, P = 0.018), whereas there was no significant effect on the risk of progression to acute myeloid leukaemia (HR 0.71, 95% CI: 0.39-1.29, P = 0.27).

Conclusion: Appropriate use of ESAs can significantly delay the onset of a regular transfusion need in patients with lower-risk MDS.

Trial registration: NCT00600860.

Keywords: MDS; Myelodysplasia; anaemia; haematology; haemoglobin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Transfusion*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / mortality
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Hematinics

Associated data