Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is the only potentially curative therapy for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), although it is infrequently offered to older patients. The relative benefits of HCT over non-HCT therapy in older patients with higher-risk MDS have not been defined.
We conducted a multicenter biologic assignment trial comparing reduced-intensity HCT to hypomethylating therapy or best supportive care in subjects 50-75 years of age with intermediate-2 or high-risk de novo MDS. The primary outcome was overall survival probability at 3 years. Between January 2014 and November 2018, we enrolled 384 subjects at 34 centers. Subjects were assigned to the Donor or No-Donor arms according to the availability of a matched donor within 90 days of study registration.
The median follow-up time for surviving subjects was 34.2 months (range: 2.3-38 months) in the Donor arm and 26.9 months (range: 2.4-37.2 months) in the No-Donor arm. In an intention-to-treat analysis, the adjusted overall survival rate at 3 years in the Donor arm was 47.9% (95% CI, 41.3 to 54.1) compared with 26.6% (95% CI, 18.4 to 35.6) in the No-Donor arm ( = .0001) with an absolute difference of 21.3% (95% CI, 10.2 to 31.8). Leukemia-free survival at 3 years was greater in the Donor arm (35.8%; 95% CI, 29.8 to 41.8) compared with the No-Donor arm (20.6%; 95% CI, 13.3 to 29.1; = .003). The survival benefit was seen across all subgroups examined.
We observed a significant survival advantage in older subjects with higher-risk MDS who have a matched donor identified and underwent reduced-intensity HCT, when compared with those without a donor. HCT should be included as an integral part of MDS management plans in fit older adults with higher-risk MDS.