Review of stem-cell transplantation for myelodysplastic syndromes in older patients in the context of the decision memo for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for myelodysplastic syndrome emanating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Sergio A. Giralt, Mary Horowitz, Daniel Weisdorf, Corey Cutler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

22 Scopus citations


Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) comprise a heterogeneous group of clonal hematopoietic stem-cell disorders that result in varying degrees of cytopenia and risk of transformation into acute leukemia. Allogeneic stem-cell transplantation (SCT) is the only known cure for this disease. The treatment is routinely used for younger patients, but only a minority of patients older than the age of 60 undergo this procedure. The overall MDS incidence is 3.3 per 100,000, but the incidence in patients older than age 70 is between 15 and 50 per 100,000. The median age at presentation is 76 years. Medicare-age patients 65 or older represent 80% of the total population receiving an MDS diagnosis. In the United States, one of the obstacles to SCT for older patients with MDS has been lack of third party reimbursement. On August 4, 2010, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released their Decision Memo for Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) for Myelodysplastic Syndrome. This memo states: "Allogeneic HSCT for MDS is covered by Medicare only for beneficiaries with MDS participating in an approved clinical study that meets the criteria below. . . . " In this review, we will summarize what is known regarding the role of allogeneic SCT in older patients as well as other elements that should be included within clinical trials that can provide the evidence necessary to demonstrate that allogeneic SCT should be a covered benefit for Medicare beneficiaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-572
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 10 2011


Cite this