Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

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Participate in a Study

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) was formed, in part, to bring promising new treatments to patients faster. For patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), this means more treatment options at SCCA than you might find elsewhere.

Many of our patients receive such therapies by taking part in one of many ongoing clinical studies conducted at SCCA and its founding organizations, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine. The doctors and scientists at SCCA are among the world’s leading researchers working to better understand the causes of these diseases and provide effective treatments. As a patient, you may have access to new medications that are not yet on the market and are available only through clinical studies.

Why Consider a Study?

Patients who come to SCCA participate in clinical studies because standard treatment has been defined for only a small subset of these patients. Clinical studies give patients access to agents that are not commercially available but showed promise in earlier studies and are being tested further.

Patients involved in such studies receive meticulous attention. Their disease course is followed very closely, and any change in their disease leads to a reassessment to determine the best approach at that time, including the possibility of removing them from the study or involving them in a different one. Our ability to follow and treat patients according to this strategy sets us apart as a unique center with worldwide recognition.

Our researchers regularly participate in scientific meetings, such as the annual International Symposium on Myelodysplastic Syndromes, where they present their latest findings and exchange information with experts from around the world. As a result, they are able to provide patients with the most recent knowledge in the field and on that basis make recommendations for care.

Kinds of Clinical Trials

Clinical trials for MDS typically focus on one of more of these main goals:

  • Achieving better levels of healthy blood cells in the bloodstream and extending the effects longer
  • Improving the cure rate 
  • Reducing the side effects of treatment

Clinical trials come in four phases.

  • In Phase I trials, investigators try to determine the safe dose levels.
  • In Phase II trials, which involve a larger group of patients, researchers hope to build on what they learned in the first phase by trying to establish whether cancers will respond to the safe dose levels and to determine what side effects will occur.
  • In Phase III trials, researchers compare the experimental treatment with the standard treatment or a placebo to prove whether the new treatment is truly effective.
  • In Phase IV trials, researchers monitor the effects of long-term usage.

Finding Clinical Trials

There are many trials underway that relate to the treatment of MDS. Each trial is designed for a precise disease situation, so there are specific criteria for patients to join the trial.

It can be confusing to sort through lists of trials, which may contain a lot of unfamiliar technical information. Ask your doctor to tell you about trials that might apply to your situation.

If you are not yet a patient at SCCA and would like to know whether we have any trials that you might be able to join, ask your doctor to call us to discuss this. Some of our trials are multi-center studies, which means you may be able to participate while still receiving treatment from your doctor in your home community.