Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents significantly delay the onset of a regular transfusion need in nontransfused patients with lower-risk myelodysplastic syndrome

H K G Garelius, William Thomas Johnston, Alexandra Gwen Smith, S Park, L de Swart, P Fenaux, A Symeonidis, G Sanz, J Cermak, R Stauder, L Malcovati, M. Mittelman, A A van de Loosdrecht, C J van Marrewijk, David Bowen, Simon Crouch, T J M de Witte, E Hellstrom-Lindberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



The EUMDS registry is an unique prospective, longitudinal observational registry enrolling newly diagnosed patients with lower‐risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) from 17 European countries from both university hospitals and smaller regional hospitals.


The aim of this study was to describe the usage and clinical impact of erythropoiesis‐stimulating agents (ESAs) in 1696 patients enrolled between 2008 and 2014.


The effects of ESAs on outcomes were assessed using proportional hazards models weighting observations by propensity to receive ESA treatment within a subset of anaemic patients with or without a regular transfusion need.


ESA treatment (median duration of 27.5 months, range 0–77 months) was administered to 773 patients (45.6%). Outcomes were assessed in 897 patients (484 ESA treated and 413 untreated). ESA treatment was associated with a nonsignificant survival benefit (HR 0.82, 95% CI: 0.65–1.04, P = 0.09); this benefit was larger amongst patients without prior transfusions (P = 0.07). Amongst 539 patients for whom response to ESA treatment could be defined, median time to first post‐ESA treatment transfusion was 6.1 months (IQR: 4.3–15.9 months) in those transfused before ESA treatment compared to 23.3 months (IQR: 7.0–47.8 months) in patients without prior transfusions (HR 2.4, 95% CI: 1.7–3.3, P < 0.0001). Responding patients had a better prognosis in terms of a lower risk of death (HR 0.65, 95% CI: 0.45–0.893, P = 0.018), whereas there was no significant effect on the risk of progression to acute myeloid leukaemia (HR 0.71, 95% CI: 0.39–1.29, P = 0.27).


Appropriate use of ESAs can significantly delay the onset of a regular transfusion need in patients with lower‐risk MDS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-299
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number3
Early online date7 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Authors


  • MDS
  • Myelodysplasia
  • anaemia
  • haematology
  • haemoglobin

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