Survival Rates for Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person's prognosis (outlook). Some patients with cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them.

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 diagnosed some time ago. Improvements in treatment since these numbers were gathered may result in a more favorable outlook for people now being diagnosed with a myelodysplastic syndrome.

These survival rates are based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any particular person's case. Many factors may affect a person’s outlook, such as the patient’s age and health, the treatment received, and how well the disease responded to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below apply to your particular situation.

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 diagnosed 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.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: February 10, 2014 Last Revised: July 2, 2015

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