The myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of bone marrow stem cell disorders which were considered refractory to chemotherapy until recently. Low-dose cytarabine was given to 6 patients with symptomatic myelodysplastic syndromes and 2 patients with acute leukemia. 5 patients responded to therapy, 3 of whom with refractory anemia achieved normalization of peripheral blood counts. Therapy was well tolerated, myelosuppression was the predominant side effect. This preliminary trial demonstrates that patients with symptomatic myelodysplastic syndromes, particularly patients with refractory anemia may be benefited by low-dose cytarabine therapy.

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