Introduction/Background: Ruxolitinib is an established treatment for myelofibrosis (MF) that has demonstrated clinical benefit by reducing spleen size and debilitating MF-related symptoms. However, despite the efficacy of ruxolitinib, anemia remains a major adverse event that causes dose modification or discontinuation in real-world practice. Additionally, dependence on red blood cell (RBC) transfusion (TF) is common during treatment; therefore, we explored the outcome of ruxolitinib therapy with a primary focus on RBC TF. Patients/Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 123 MF patients treated with ruxolitinib between January 2012 and April 2020 at eight academic centers in Korea. Results: At ruxolitinib initiation, 38 patients (30.9%) underwent ≥ 2 units of RBC TF over 8 weeks. The most common reason for permanent discontinuation was intolerant anemia (10/63, 15.9%). The most common reasons for temporary interruption were nonhematologic toxicity (26/55, 21.1%), anemia (23/55, 18.7%) and thrombocytopenia (13/55, 10.6%). Among the 123 patients in the study, 57 (46.3%), 42 (34.1%), and 40 patients (32.5%) who were receiving or stopped ruxolitinib therapy had a status of RBC TF dependence, long-term RBC TF dependence, or severe RBC TF dependence, respectively. The presence of ≥ 2 units of RBC transfusion over 8 weeks at ruxolitinib initiation was an independent risk factor for persistent RBC TF dependence. Conclusion: The requirement for RBC TF is commonly encountered during treatment of MF with ruxolitinib, particularly among those with pre-existing ≥ 2 units of RBC TF over 8 weeks. For those patients, overcoming the barrier of maintenance TF is demanding.
- Red Blood Cell Transfusion