The epidemiology of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and iron overload, recent clinical findings that highlight the importance of actively managing iron overload, and recommendations for initiating and maintaining iron chelation therapy (ICT) are summarized.
MDS are a variety of hematological disorders with differing time courses. Disease morbidities are primarily due to cytopenias and evolution to acute myeloid leukemia. Iron overload is a serious complication in patients with MDS due to the long-term use of red blood cell transfusions in patients with symptomatic anemia. Clinical consequences of iron overload include end-organ damage and dysfunction, an increased frequency of transplant-related complications, and reduced survival rates. To prevent these complications, recommendations for initiating and maintaining ICT should be followed by clinicians caring for patients with MDS and iron overload.
As current therapeutic options for patients with MDS do not always reduce the transfusion burden, many patients will still need long-term transfusion therapy. Strategies for the management of iron overload in MDS should be considered early in the disease course and in appropriate patients in order to prevent negative clinical outcomes associated with excessive iron accumulation.