Twenty‐five patients with refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB) were studied. Five of these patients showed Auer rods in their myeloblasts, but met other criteria for RAEB. Median survival of the Auer rod‐positive group was 14 months (range 2–27) from diagnosis with survival of 7 months after Auer rods were first observed. Median survival for the Auer rod‐negative group was 12 months. Two patients developed overt acute leukemia, both from the Auer rod‐negative group. The clinical course of Auer rod‐positive RAEB, like that of Auer rod‐negative RAEB, was one of progressive bone marrow failure complicated by infection, serious bleeding and the development of absolute transfusion requirement. These findings suggest that Auer rod‐positive RAEB is a morphologic variant dysmyelopoietic syndrome that may pursue a similar clinical course to Auer rod‐negative disease. Formulation of a separate treatment approach for those RAEB patients who possess Auer rods would appear ill advised.
- Auer rods
- refractory anemia