What to know about higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (HR-MDS) [Infographic]

Posted: October 23, 2020 | Word Count: 407

Sponsored by Takeda Oncology

MDS is a rare cancer that is not commonly discussed, and is often referred to as a disorder or condition.

In recognition of MDS World Awareness Day, here are three key things to know about MDS:

  1. What is MDS?

MDS is a rare form of bone marrow cancer.1 There are 14,000 cases of MDS reported every year in the U.S., ranging in prognosis from very low- to very high-risk.2 Approximately 43% of new cases are higher-risk, meaning patients are at an increased risk for poor outcomes.3

  1. Why is it important that MDS should be widely considered a cancer?

MDS can be difficult to identify because symptoms are often vague, and patients are typically 70 years or older.4 MDS can be classified as higher-risk disease, which is often fatal. HR-MDS can transform into another aggressive cancer, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which also has extremely poor survival outcomes.1 Greater recognition of MDS as a cancer could lead to greater urgency to treat patients.

  1. Are there any treatment options available for HR-MDS?

Stem cell transplants are the only potential curative option, but the vast majority of people are too frail or sick to undergo transplant.5 A specific type of chemotherapy — hypomethylating agents (HMAs) — is approved to treat HR-MDS, but, alone, provides limited benefit.6 There have been no novel advances in treatment for HR-MDS in over 10 years.7-8


1 American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome/about/what-is-mds.html. Accessed August 27, 2020.

2 National Cancer Institute. https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/browse_csr.php?sectionSEL=30&pageSEL=sect_30_table.02. Accessed August 27, 2020.

3 Greenberg, P. L., Tuechler, H., Schanz, J., Sanz, G., Garcia-Manero, G., Solé, F., … Haase, D. (2012). Blood, 120(12), 2454–2465. doi.org/10.1182/blood-2012-03-420489. Accessed August 27, 2020.

4 American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html. Accessed August 27, 2020.

5 American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome/treating/general-approach.html. Accessed June 8, 2020.

6 Gil-Perez, A., Montalban-Bravo, G. (2019). Therapeutic Advances in Hematology, 10, 2040620719847059. doi.org/10.1177/2040620719847059. Accessed August 27, 2020.

7 Gotza, K.S., Muller-Thomas, C., Peschel, C. (2009). Cancer Management and Research, 1, 119-130. doi.org/10.2147/cmr.s4721. Accessed August 27, 2020.

8 National Comprehensive Cancer Network. https://www.nccn.org/patients/guidelines/content/PDF/mds-patient.pdf. Accessed August 27, 2020.

This article is available to download for free use in print and online publications. If you must edit the article, please include at least one brand reference. All articles must retain the (BPT) or Brandpoint byline.
Download this Article