Misdiagnosis of MDS can lead to suboptimal treatment decisions and errors in population-based estimates of MDS incidence and mortality
Accurate MDS diagnoses and prognosis depends on strong collaboration between clinicians and skilled pathologists
Myelodysplastic neoplasms (MDS) are a collection of hematopoietic disorders with widely variable prognoses and treatment options. Accurate pathologic diagnoses present challenges due to interobserver variability in interpreting morphology and quantifying dysplasia. We compared local clinical site diagnoses with central, adjudicated review from 918 participants enrolled in the ongoing National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute National MDS Natural History Study (NCT02775383), a prospective observational cohort study of participants with suspected MDS or MDS/myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). Locally, 264 (29%) were diagnosed as having MDS, 15 (2%) MDS/MPN overlap, 62 (7%) idiopathic cytopenia of undetermined significance (ICUS), 0 (0%) acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with <30% blasts, and 577 (63%) other. Approximately one-third of cases were reclassified following central review with 266 (29%) diagnosed as MDS, 45 (5%) MDS/MPN overlap, 49 (5%) ICUS, 15 (2%) AML <30%, and 543 (59%) other. Site miscoding errors accounted for over half (53%) of the local misdiagnoses, leaving a true misdiagnosis rate of 15% overall, 21% for MDS. Therapies were reported in 37% of patients, including 43% of patients with MDS, 49% of MDS/MPN, and 86% of AML <30% blasts. Treatment rates were lower (25%) in cases with true discordance in diagnosis compared to those where local and central diagnoses agreed (40%), and receipt of inappropriate therapy occurred in 7% of misdiagnosed cases. Discordant diagnoses were frequent, which has implications for the accuracy of study-related and national registries and can lead to inappropriate therapy.