Thirty three patients with refractory myelodysplastic anaemias (RMDA) with marrow hypocellularity were reviewed to see whether they differed from those with normocellular or hypercellular marrows. The median age was 65 years with a male:female ratio of 26:7. There were 11 cases of refractory anaemia (RA), four of refractory anaemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS), and 18 of refractory anaemia with excess of blasts (RAEB). All presented with peripheral cytopenias, mostly pancytopenia or bicytopenia dysplasia in one or more cell lineages, and a marrow biopsy specimen with less than normal numbers of nucleated cells for the age. Twenty four patients died, including 14 of the 16 who developed acute non-lymphocytic leukaemia (ANLL). The results suggest that patients with hypocellular RMDA have a similar prognosis to those with normocellular or hypercellular marrows at presentation.
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