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SOHO 2018 | Intervening on time: how hypomethylating agents can prevent transition to AML

Myeloproliferative neoplasms, a group of blood disorders, have debilitating effects on patients, including shortening life expectancy and lowering the quality of life. From the 2018 Society of Hematologic Oncology (SOHO) in Houston, TX, Srdan Verstovsek, MD, PhD, from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, brings light upon a subgroup of patients that undergo an accelerated phase whereby they transition from chronic to acute myeloid leukemia. Prof. Verstovsek stresses a vital need to intervene in this transition phase, suggesting prognostic factors such as a low percentage of blasts and platelets that can be observed. Treatments are also discussed in this interview, including the use of hypomethylating agents to reduce the number of blasts to bring patients back to the chronic phase, in with transplantation can be used. Hypomethylation agents, however, cannot treat all symptoms such as weight loss and splenomegaly. Improvements in such physical symptoms may be best treated by combination therapy with ruxolitinib and a hypomethylating agent.