Myelodysplastic Syndrome Overview

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival rates for myelodysplastic syndrome

Doctors often use survival rates as a standard way of talking about a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some patients with cancer may want to know the survival rates for their type of cancer, while others might not find the numbers helpful, or might even not want to know them. If you decide you do not want to know them, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

Median survival is one way to look at outcomes and measures the amount of time for half the patients in a certain group to die. This is a middle value – half the patients live longer than this, and half do not live this long. These numbers are based on patients whose cancer was found some time ago. Better treatments developed since then could mean a better outlook for people with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) found now.

The following survival statistics are based on the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) risk groups. These were published in 1997 and do not include patients treated with intensive chemotherapy.

    IPSS risk group

    Median survival


    5.7 years


    3.5 years


    1.2 years


    5 months

The WHO Prognostic Scoring System (WPSS) risk groups can also be used to predict outcome. These statistics were published in 2007 based on patients whose MDS was found between 1982 and 2004.

    Risk Group

    Median Survival

    Risk of Leukemia (within 5 years)*

    Very low

    12 years



    5.5 years



    4 years



    2 years


    Very high

    9 months


* The percentage of people who will develop leukemia within 5 years of being put into this risk group.

While these numbers give an overall picture, keep in mind that every person is unique and the statistics can’t predict exactly what will happen in your case. Talk with your cancer care team if you have questions about your own chances of a cure, or how long you might survive your cancer. They know your situation best.

Last Medical Review: 02/27/2014
Last Revised: 04/03/2014