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Drug Eases Bone Marrow Cancer Burden

Decitabine boosts quality of life for MDS patients, study finds

MONDAY, March 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A new drug may improve the quality of life for patients with a bone marrow cancer called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), U.S. researchers report.

However, decitabine -- currently undergoing Phase III efficacy trials -- may not extend the survival of patients with this disease, experts say.

MDS is one of the most common geriatric blood-related cancers. It can be a chronic progressive disease with median survival over five years, or it can be a rapidly progressive disease complicated by acute myeloid lekemia (AML), with a median survival of less than five years.

According to researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, decitabine provided longer disease-free responses than supportive care alone for people with MDS.

Reporting in the April 15 issue of the journal Cancer, Dr. Hagop Kantarjian and colleagues found that MDS patients treated with decitabine had longer disease-free periods and a longer time to progression of AML or death than patients who received supportive care.

Patients treated with decitabine were also more likely to have immediate disease improvements and a better quality of life.

Decitabine is one of a number of new drugs currently being tested to treat MDS.

An accompanying editorial in the same issue of Cancer cautioned that these new drugs may help improve quality of life for MDS patients, but will have little impact on patients' length of survival.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about MDS.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., news release, March 13, 2006
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