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Management of Transfusion-Related Iron Overload in Patients With Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Jayshree Shah
Sandra E. Kurtin
Louise Arnold
Petra Lindroos-Kolqvist
Sara Tinsley
CJON 2012, 16(3), 37-46 DOI: 10.1188/12.CJON.S1.37-46

Anemia is a common symptom for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a spectrum of hematopoietic malignancies characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis; 90% of these patients will become transfusion dependent (TD). Because of the closed nature of iron metabolism, the repeated input of packed red blood cells during transfusions inevitably leads to iron overload. Iron overload can cause iron-related toxicity as well as end-organ damage from iron deposition in tissues. Studies have shown that patients with MDS who are TD have shorter overall survival, shorter leukemia-free survival, and higher healthcare costs compared with patients who are not TD, suggesting that iron overload has a significant clinical and economic impact. Iron chelation therapy can bind and eliminate free iron from the body. Although studies in genetic anemias have shown improved clinical outcomes, clinical trials with patients with MDS are ongoing. Because iron chelation therapy can be toxic, the risks, benefits, and therapy-related costs must be weighed for each patient.

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