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Researchers Find Evidence Of Survival Gains In Bone Marrow Disease

December 14, 2009

A recent study, published in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, demonstrates new survival data for the blood disorder myelofibrosis. This retrospective study is the largest ever conducted in young patients with primary myelofibrosis.

Myelofibrosis is a serious disorder that disrupts the body’s normal production of blood cells. The result is extensive scarring in the bone marrow, leading to severe anemia, weakness, fatigue and often, an enlarged spleen and liver.

“In the past 20 years, management of primary myelofibrosis has incorporated new treatment approaches, but survival benefits for patients have not been confirmed,” says Ayalew Tefferi, M.D., senior author of the study and a Mayo Clinic hematologist. “Our study reviewed almost 30 years of data on myelofibrosis to obtain mature survival data in the particular patient population.”

Study findings suggest that high- to intermediate-risk patients in whom the diagnosis of primary myelofibrosis was made after 1986 lived longer than those whose diagnosis was made earlier. The improvement in survival was most impressive for patients whose diagnosis was made in the most recent decade (ie, 1996-2005) in which median survival was not reached.

“Such retrospective studies cannot accurately identify the reasons for improved survival but alert clinical investigators to avoid using historical controls to determine the value of new treatment modalities such as allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation,” says Dr. Tefferi.

“These observations are encouraging and suggest a beneficial effect from modern therapeutic approaches in myelofibrosis. The current findings are based on retrospective observation and need to be validated in properly designed prospective studies.”

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