While lenalidomide (LEN) is the standard of care for the lower-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) patients with deletion 5q, 35% will not respond to or do not tolerate the drug. Moreover, most of the patients will lose their response after a few years. Defining the outcome of patients with LEN failure and determining the impact of subsequent therapies is therefore important to develop alternative strategies. Based on an international collaboration, we were able to compile a total of 392 patient cases of lower-risk MDS patients with 5q deletion and to analyze their outcome after failure of lenalidomide. The median survival following LEN failure was 23 months. We observed a negative impact on survival of advanced age, higher bone marrow blast count at LEN initiation, progression after LEN failure, and unfavorable cytogenetics. Among the treatment strategies, we observed a relatively prolonged survival of patients treated subsequently with hypomethylating agents and only a limited impact on survival of allogeneic transplantation. In conclusion, our work stresses the relatively short survival of this group of patient and defines the expected baseline for the needed future investigations in this group of patients.
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