Anemia Drugs May Be Effective And Safe For Very Elderly MDS Patients (EHA 2012)
Published: Jul 12, 2012 11:32 am
Researchers from Italy have found that anemia drugs may be effective and safe for very elderly MDS patients with low red blood cell counts.
However, the researchers point out that additional, larger studies are necessary to confirm their findings and to determine the effects of anemia drugs on the quality of life in this patient population.
The findings were presented at the 17th Congress of the European Hematology Association (EHA) held in The Netherlands last month.
Anemia drugs, known as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), are used in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) patients to improve low red blood cell counts (anemia) and reduce the need for red blood cell transfusions.
According to the Italian researchers, ESAs have not been widely used in elderly MDS patients despite the typical age of MDS onset being around 70 years.
Therefore, the researchers sought to determine how effective ESA treatment is in very elderly MDS patients.
The retrospective analysis included 93 MDS patients from multiple Italian treatment centers. The patients had to be at least 80 years of age and have received ESAs between January 2002 and December 2010.
Of the 60 patients analyzed for risk, 47 percent had low-risk MDS, 43 percent had intermediate-1 risk MDS, and 10 percent had intermediate-2 risk MDS. Almost half (43 percent) of the patients had previously received a red blood cell transfusion. The median patient age was 83 years.
The patients began ESA treatment a median of 2.8 months after their initial MDS diagnosis.
Patients received either 40,000 units (37 percent) or 80,000 units (64 percent) per week.
Across both treatment groups, 67 percent of patients responded to treatment, with 58 percent achieving a major red blood cell response and 9 percent achieving a minor red blood cell response. These response rates are similar those observed in an overall MDS patient population (63 percent of overall response rate, with 42 percent of patients achieving a major hematologic response and 21 percent achieving a minor hematologic response) from a previous analysis of MDS patients (see related Beacon news).
Median overall survival was longer in patients who responded to treatment (48 months) than in non-responders (30.6 months), but the difference was not considered statistically significant.
Patients were more likely to respond to treatment if they had more than 8 g of hemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells and the blood) per dl of blood, less than 250 ng of ferritin (a protein that stores iron) per ml of blood, and had never needed a red blood cell transfusion.
The researchers pointed out that of the patients who responded to treatment, only 6 percent experienced side effects. None of the patients experienced blood clots, a treatment-related complication observed in patients with solid tumor cancers. Previous research has shown that these drugs are not associated with an increased risk of blood clots in MDS patients (see related Beacon news).
- Anemia Drugs May Not Increase Risk Of Blood Clots In MDS Patients
- Response To Anemia Drugs Linked To Prognosis In Lower-Risk MDS Patients
- Study Confirms Efficacy And Safety Of Red Blood Cell Stimulating Agents In MDS (EHA 2011)
- Addition Of NeoRecormon May Make Vidaza Treatment More Tolerable For Lower-Risk MDS Patients (ASCO 2012)
- Cell Growth Protein May Predict Lower Risk MDS Patients’ Responses To Red Blood Cell Stimulators