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MDS, a blood cancer, strikes nearly 5 times more Americans than previously thought
Date:4/26/2010

l 2001, when the National Cancer Institute (NCI) began requiring that all tumor registries report cases to the Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology & End Results (SEER) program. The SEER database reported 10,300 newly diagnosed MDS patients in 2003, with a three-year survival rate of just 35 percent.

To conduct a "head-to-head" study, Dr. Goldberg and colleagues analyzed claims data for Medicare beneficiaries age 65+ for 2003. What they found was alarming: an estimated 45,000 new cases of MDS.

The gap in estimates can be explained by differing data sources: Medicare data are submitted by both physicians in private practice as well as hospital-based physicians, while SEER data come strictly from tumor registries, which are primarily found in hospitals.

"MDS is generally treated by hematologists and primary care physicians in private practice, and elderly patients with MDS are frequently not seen at a hospital-based cancer center until their disease progresses," says Dr. Goldberg. "So most cases are not being reported to NCI. As we found in our study, many apparently die of other causes as their disease progresses."

The researchers found a much higher incidence of other serious illnesses among MDS patients than among American seniors as a whole. More than 73% of MDS patients experienced a heart attack within three years of diagnosis, while 54.5% of the general Medicare population did. The prevalence of other conditions was also higher, including: diabetes (40% for MDS patients, vs. 33.1% non-MDS); dyspnea, a type of shortness of breath (49.4% vs. 28.5%); liver disease (.8% vs. .2%); and sepsis, a serious blood infection (22.5% vs. 6.1%). MDS patients requiring blood transfusions had a higher incidence of these conditions than those who were not transfused.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) developed within three years in 9.6% of newly diagnosed MDS patients, and those who received transfusions progressed to AML at
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Contact: Amy Leahing
amy.leahing@widmeyer.com
646-213-7245
John Theurer Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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