Numerous studies have analysed the clinical efficacies of hypomethylating agents (HMAs) in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). However, reports that compare the two HMAs, decitabine and azacitidine, in patients with lower-risk (low and intermediate-1) MDS are limited. We compared 5-day decitabine and 7-day azacitidine regimens in terms of treatment responses, survival outcomes, and adverse events in patients with lower-risk MDS with poor prognostic features. The overall response rates (ORRs) were 67.2% and 44.0% in the patients treated with decitabine and azacitidine, respectively (P = 0.014). While the median progression-free survival (PFS) was significantly better in the patients treated with decitabine than in those treated with azacitidine (P = 0.019), no significant differences in event-free and overall survival rates were observed between the two groups. Multivariate analysis revealed that compared with azacitidine treatment, decitabine treatment is significantly associated with a higher ORR (P = 0.026) and longer PFS (P = 0.037). No significant differences were observed in the incidence of grade 3 or higher haematologic adverse events in response to the two HMAs. In conclusion, in lower-risk MDS, especially with poor prognostic features, ORR and PFS were significantly better with 5-day decitabine treatment than with 7-day azacitidine treatment, with comparable safety.
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