Prognostic factors and life expectancy in myelodysplastic syndromes classified according to WHO criteria: A basis for clinical decision making

Luca Malcovati, Matteo Giovanni Della Porta, Cristiana Pascutto, Rosangela Invernizzi, Marina Boni, Erica Travaglino, Francesco Passamonti, Luca Arcaini, Margherita Maffioli, Paolo Bernasconi, Mario Lazzarino, Mario Cazzola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic value of the WHO proposal, to assess the role of the main prognostic factors in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) classified into WHO subgroups, and to estimate mortality (standardized mortality ratio [SMR]) and life expectancy in these groups as a basis for clinical decision making. Patients and Methods: Four hundred sixty-seven patients who were diagnosed as having de novo MDS at the Division of Hematology, University of Pavia (Pavia, Italy), between 1992 and 2002, were evaluated retrospectively for clinical and hematologic features at diagnosis, overall survival (OS), and progression to leukemia (leukemia-free survival). Results: Significant differences in survival were noted between patients with refractory anemia (RA), refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia, RA with excess blasts, type 1 (RAEB-1), and RAEB-2. The effect of demographic factors on OS was observed in MDS patients without excess blasts (age, P = .001; sex, P = .006), as in the general population. The mortality of RA patients 70 years or older did not differ significantly from that of the general population (SMR, 1.62; P = .06). Cytogenetics was the only International Prognostic Scoring System variable showing a prognostic value in MDS classified into WHO subgroups. Transfusion-dependent patients had a significantly shorter survival than patients who did not require transfusions (P <.001). Developing a secondary iron overload significantly affected the survival of transfusion-dependent patients (P = .003). Conclusion: These data show that the WHO classification of MDSs has a relevant prognostic value. This classification, along with cytogenetics, might be useful in decisions regarding transplantation. MDS with isolated erythroid lineage dysplasia identifies a subset of truly low-risk patients, for whom a conservative approach is advisable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7594-7603
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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