No standard exists for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome relapsing after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. We performed a retrospective registry analysis of outcomes and risk factors in 698 patients, treated with different strategies. The median overall survival from relapse was 4.7 months (95% confidence interval: 4.1-5.3) and the 2-year survival rate was 17.7% (95% confidence interval: 14.8-21.2%). Shorter remission after transplantation (P<0.001), advanced disease (P=0.001), older age (P=0.007), unrelated donor (P=0.008) and acute graft-versus-host disease before relapse (P<0.001) adversely influenced survival. At 6 months from relapse, patients had received no cellular treatment, (i.e. palliative chemotherapy or best supportive care, n=375), donor lymphocyte infusion (n=213), or a second transplant (n=110). Treatment groups were analyzed separately because of imbalanced characteristics and difficulties in retrospectively evaluating the reason for individual treatments. Of the patients who did not receive any cellular therapy, 109 were alive at 6 months after relapse, achieving a medianoverall survival from this landmark of 8.9 months (95% confidence interval: 5.1-12.6). Their 2-year survival rate was 29.7%. Recipients of donor lymphocytes achieved a median survival from first infusion of 6.0 months (95% confidence interval: 3.7-8.3) with a 2-year survival rate of 27.6%. Longer remission after first transplantation (P<0.001) and younger age (P=0.009) predicted better outcome. Among recipients of a second transplant, the median survival from second transplantation was 4.2 months (95% confidence interval: 2.5-5.9), and their 2-year survival rate was 17.0%. Longer remission after first transplantation (P<0.001), complete remission at second transplant (P=0.008), no prior chronic graft-versus-host disease (P<0.001) and change to a new donor (P=0.04) predicted better outcome. The data enabled identification of patients benefiting from donor lymphocyte infusion and second transplantation, and may serve as a baseline for prospective trials.
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