Cytogenetics has provided new insights into the biology and pathogenesis of myelodysplastic syndromes. In patients with refractory anemia, it has provided proof of clonality and has helped differentiate chronic myelomonocytic leukemia from chronic myeloid leukemia. As a prognostic tool, cytogenetics has been predictive of duration of survival and leukemic transformation. However, its role as an independent prognostic factor compared with recent prognostic scoring systems remains to be determined. New techniques such as fluorescent in situ hybridization using chromosome-specific DNA probes may expand the usefulness of cytogenetics. The prognostic impact of cytogenetics may not be fully realized until more effective treatments become available.
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