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ASH: Chelation May Help Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Overall and four-year survival rates higher in patients who receive iron chelation therapy

TUESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Iron chelation therapy may improve outcomes in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) who are treated with frequent anemia-related blood transfusions that can cause iron overload, according to research presented this week at the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Orlando.

Heather A. Leitch, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues performed a retrospective review of 178 MDS patients. They used the International Prognostic Scoring System, which predicts survival and risk of transformation to acute leukemia, to predict the course of MDS in 133 patients. They selected 18 low-to-moderate risk patients to receive subcutaneous infusions of a chelating agent -- desferroxamine (0.5-3 grams) -- five days a week for a median of 15 months.

The researchers found that median overall survival in the iron chelation therapy group was 160 months compared to 40.1 months in the group that didn't receive chelation therapy. The therapy group also had a significantly improved four-year survival rate (80 percent versus 44 percent).

"Although we were not able to demonstrate a decrease in organ dysfunction in patients receiving iron chelation therapy for MDS, there was a significant improvement in overall survival," the authors conclude. "These are to our knowledge the first data documenting improvement in clinical outcome in patients with MDS receiving iron chelation therapy."

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