Pre-Leukemia – New Discoveries in the Treatment of Pre-Leukemia

Recent studies show that a mild form of chemotherapy with the use of decitabine, administered over a longer period of time, can have significantly advantageous results for patients diagnosed with pre-leukemia. More widely known as Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), pre-leukemia was recognized as a certified form of cancer just recently.

The American Cancer Society’s journal published this study in their latest issue, taking a more detailed look at pre-leukemia and its effects on the human body.

New Research Revelations

Researchers estimate than 45% of the patients with pre-leukemia symptoms and those who go through a relapse respond to a second treatment course. However, they did not get the duration and quality in their second round of treatment, compared to the first few rounds of chemotherapy. With the new findings, researchers are leaning towards the belief that initial treatments given over a longer duration may have more benefits compared to numerous chemotherapy rounds.

It was discovered in the study that an average of three rounds of decitabine treatment had 10 out of the 22 patients exhibiting any type of response. Seven of the patients were observed to have haematological improvements and experienced a 50% decrease in their need for tranfusions, while three of the patients partly or completely had an effect in every one of their three cell lines. Overall, the average survival rate was declared to be 28 months, with those patients treated again with decitabine having a 13-month rate of survival before suffering from any sort of relapse.

In the group where 12 of the patients did not have any response to decitabine, the treatment had one of these two results: no effect whatsoever or the abnormal cells’ suppression, without the normal cells repopulating the bone marrow. Out of the 12 patients mentioned, four developed acute leukemia from the pre-leukemia.

The authors conclude that the most advantageous treatment type for pre-leukemia patients is the initial chemotherapy session given in longer durations, followed by maintenance of shorter treatment rounds.


Pre-leukemia is an affliction that targets the bone marrow, resulting in an increased number of ineffective red and white blood cells. Usually, the cells blast and produce from the stem cells while multiplying in the blood stream, eventually killing the normal blood cells. This results in an irregular production of blood cells, causing fewer blood cells to form (which are needed to circulate and carry oxygen to different body parts).

Although therapy is readily available, pre-leukemia affects adults in their 50s, and researchers still have to find the ultimate cure. Patients suffering from pre-leukemia generally develop leukemia, or cancer of the blood cells. This study shows that this new DNA hypomethylating agent, decitabine, will have the most benefits for patients.

by David Austin


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