According to a story from Hematology Times, a recent study found that genetic sequencing after the completion of a hematopoietic stem cell transplant could provide doctors with vital information about prognosis for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes. This could give caregivers extra time to pursue other approaches that could fight the disease before symptoms reappear.
About Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Myelodysplastic syndromes are a type of blood cancer in which immature blood cells within the bone marrow fail to develop into matured cells. The exact cause of myelodysplastic syndromes is unknown, but there are several known risk factors, such as tobacco smoke, exposure to certain chemicals such as pesticides and benzene, mercury and lead exposure, and previous chemo or radiation therapy. This cancer can be dangerous because symptoms are practically non-existent in the early stages; later symptoms include low blood cell counts, infections, bleeding and bruising easily, fatigue, and shortness of breath. It is possible for myelodysplastic syndromes to develop into acute myeloid leukemia. Treatment typically involves a limited number of specific chemotherapy agents and stem cell transplant. A transplant can occasionally be curative, but for the general patient population median survival is only 2.5 years after diagnosis. Outcomes vary widely depending on the type. To learn more about myelodysplastic syndromes, click here.
The study found that those patients who still had bone marrow mutations associated with the disease 30 days after received a transplant were much more likely to have their disease progress. They also had lower rates of progression free survival a year after the operation. In patients with the mutations, 53.1 percent experienced disease progression compared to just 13 percent for those without them. Meanwhile, the progression free rate of survival at one year was 31.3 percent and 59.3 percent respectively. This study involved a total of 90 patients.
This new discovery gives doctors extra time to attempt to intervene and treat myelodysplastic syndromes if it appears that stem cell transplant will not be effective. However, there is not currently a textbook plan of action for this group of patients, and more research will be necessary to determine what sort of treatment would be most effective.
Check the official study results at The New England Journal of Medicine website.