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

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.

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