Childhood myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia (JMML) are very rare clonal stem cell disorders of early childhood. Paediatric MDS can be further subdivided in refractory cytopenia of childhood (RCC) and high grade MDS, in case of excess blasts. Given their rarity, little is known about the epidemiology of these diseases in Belgium. The aim of this study is to investigate the incidence, characteristics, treatment and prognosis of paediatric MDS and JMML in Belgium. Prospectively collected data of 56 Belgian patients with MDS and JMML were enrolled in the study, of which 41 (73%) with MDS, eleven with JMML (20%) and four (7%) with Noonan syndrome associated myeloproliferative disorder. The incidence rates of MDS and JMML in Belgium were 1.5 and 0.4 per million children per year respectively, with a median age of diagnosis of 9.3 years for RCC, 9.5 years for high grade MDS and 2.6 years for JMML. Monosomy 7 was the most common cytogenetic abnormality and could particularly be found in high grade MDS (33%) and JMML (45%). RCC treatment consisted of immunosuppressive therapy (IST) and haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), but in high grade MDS and JMML only HSCT was a valid treatment option. Overall survival was significantly lower in high grade MDS (45.0%) compared to JMML (79.5%) and RCC (80.6%) (log-rank p-value = 0.038), whereas event-free survival (EFS) was comparably low in high grade MDS and JMML (46.7% and 58.4% respectively) due to a high cumulative incidence of relapse (CIR) of 33% and 29.9%, respectively. Outcome was best for RCC patients with highest EFS (76.3%; 57.1% if IST failure was considered as event) and lowest CIR (9.3%). This study highlights that paediatric MDS and JMML are very rare disorders with associated morbidity and mortality, especially in high grade MDS and JMML. Considering the high relapse risk in high grade MDS and JMML, new therapeutic options are required.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2020;11(6):233-9)