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Anemia is common in Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS). Different anemia treatments have been tested in clinical studies, but the full impact on patients' health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and physical function is unknown. The main aim of this review was to assess whether improvements in anemia are associated with changes in HRQoL/physical function. Twenty-six full-text publications were identified, enrolling 2211 patients: nine randomized trials (RCTs), fourteen non-randomized studies of interventions and three cross-sectional studies. Interventions included: growth factors/erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (n = 14), red cell transfusion (n = 9), erythroid maturation agents (n = 1), or a combination (n = 2). Five RCTs reported no changes in HRQoL despite erythroid response to the intervention, raising the question of whether anemia treatment alone can effectively improve HRQoL. Many studies were considered at high risk of bias for assessing HRQoL. There is a pressing need for future clinical trials to better define the nature of the relationship between anemia and HRQoL/functional outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article


Blood Rev

Publication Date



Anemia, Myelodysplastic syndrome, Physical function, Quality of life, Transfusion medicine