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Advances in Myelodysplastic Syndrome: Nursing Implications of Azacitidine

Erin P. Demakos
Jeanette A. Linebaugh
CJON 2005, 9(4), 417-423 DOI: 10.1188/05.CJON.417-423

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a group of clonal hematopoietic stem cell disorders characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis, leading to bone marrow failure and peripheral blood cytopenias. MDS is difficult to diagnose because of the absence of symptoms in the early stage of the disease; it often is discovered accidentally during routine physical examinations or blood tests. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved azacitidine (Vidaza®, Pharmion Corporation, Boulder, CO) for the treatment of MDS. Prior to the approval of azacitidine, no approved therapies were available for the treatment of MDS. Azacitidine is believed to exert its anticancer effects by induction of hypomethylation and cytotoxicity. In clinical studies, the most common adverse events during treatment with azacitidine included nausea, anemia, thrombocytopenia, vomiting, pyrexia, leukopenia, diarrhea, fatigue, injectionsite erythema, constipation, neutropenia, and ecchymosis. To ensure proper treatment with azacitidine, nurses should have an understanding of dosage and administration guidelines, commonly observed adverse events, monitoring and care of adverse events, and monitoring of laboratory tests. Having a comprehensive understanding of MDS, its underlying disease characteristics, and current treatments will enable oncology nurses to provide optimal patient care.

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