Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of closely related diseases that arise in the bone marrow. In patients with MDS, the bone marrow makes reduced numbers of red blood cells (resulting in anemia), white blood cells (which fight infection), or platelets (which prevent or stop bleeding), or any combination of the three.
The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of treatment with lenalidomide alone and in combination with epoetin alfa on bone marrow function in patients with MDS and symptomatic anemia. Anemia can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. The goal of therapy is to raise red blood cell counts and reduce the number of red blood cell transfusions that MDS patients need.
Epoetin alfa boosts the production of red blood cells. Lenalidomide might make epoetin alfa and other red blood cell hormones work better against anemia. Patients will be randomly assigned to receive lenalidomide alone or with epoetin alfa. Both drugs are approved for use in patients, though their use together is considered investigational.