Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)

What are myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)?

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of conditions that affect the cells in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is located inside certain bones and is responsible for creating blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets). 
 
In people with myelodysplastic syndromes, there is damage/alteration to some of the cells in the bone marrow which causes problems when making blood cells. Some of the cells that are made may not mature/develop properly and are defective. These cells won’t function the way normal, healthy cells do. This results in them dying earlier than normal cells or being destroyed by the body and causes the person affected to have low blood cell counts
 
MDS is now considered a type of cancer because it causes mutation in the cells. It may need to be treated with chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant. In some cases, MDS can progress to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Acute myeloid leukemia is an aggressive, fast-growing cancer of the bone marrow cells. 
 
The different types of myelodysplastic syndromes are usually determined by looking at one’s bone marrow under a microscope.
 
These types include:
 
  • Refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts
  • Refractory anemia with excess blasts-1
  • Refractory anemia with excess blasts-2
  • Refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia
  • Refractory cytopenia with unilineage dysplasia 
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome associated with an isolated del(5q) chromosome abnormality
  • Unclassifiable myelodysplastic syndrome 
 
 
Risk factors
 
  • Older age (MDS is more common in adults over age 60)
  • Exposure to heavy metals
  • Exposure to certain chemicals such as pesticides and benzene
  • Smoking
  • Previous treatment with chemotherapy or radiation
  • Family history of MDS
  • Sex (MDS is more common in males)
  • Genetic syndromes such as Fanconi anemia, severe congenital neutropenia, familial platelet disorder, Diamond Blackfan anemia, and Shwachman-Diamond syndrome 
 
 
Diagnosis 
Diagnosis of MDS will likely involve a complete medical history and physical exam. Your doctor will likely pay close attention to any symptoms you may be having and they may also look at your family history. 
 
Some tests that may be done to diagnose MDS include:
 
  • Blood tests will likely be done to look at your number of red cells, white cells, and platelets and to look for any abnormalities to the size, shape, and appearance of your cells. 
  • Bone marrow biopsy is done by using a needle to aspirate a piece of bone marrow, typically from the hip bone. The sample is then looked at under a microscope for abnormalities. 
  • Cytogenic testing may be done to look at the chromosomes inside cells for any abnormalities. 
  • Molecular genetic studies can also be done to look for genetic and chromosomal abnormalities. 
 
Treatment
Treatment for MDS is usually aimed at managing any symptoms one has, slowing the disease progression, and preventing any complications. 
 
Potential treatments for MDS include:
 
  • Blood transfusions
  • Infection prevention/treatment
  • Bone marrow transplant
  • Chemotherapy
  • Growth factor
  • Immunosuppressant medication
  • Medications that stimulate the maturation of blood cells
  •  Clinical trials
 
 
 
# MYELODYSPLASTIC SYNDROMES (MDS) BY THE NUMBERS #
  • In approximately 1/3 of cases, MDS will progress to acute myeloid leukemia. 
  • 4.8 out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. develop MDS.
  • There are approximately 13,000 new cases of MDS in the U.S. each year 
 
about myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)
 
 

Sources:
  • "Myelodysplastic syndromes." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 27 Oct. 2017. Web. 09 Nov. 2017.
  • “What are Myelodysplastic Syndromes?” The American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, 02 Jul. 2015. Web. 09. Nov. 2017. 
  • “Types of Myelodysplastic Syndromes.” The American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, 02 Jul. 2015. Web. 09. Nov. 2017.
  • “What Are the Key Statistics About Myelodysplastic Syndromes?” The American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, 02 Jul. 2015. Web. 09. Nov. 2017.
  • “What Are the Risk Factors for Myelodysplastic Syndromes?” The American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, 02 Jul. 2015. Web. 09. Nov. 2017.
  • “Treating Myelodysplastic Syndromes.” The American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, 02 Jul. 2015. Web. 09. Nov. 2017.
  • “Understanding Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS).” The Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation, Inc. MDS Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2017. 
  • “Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS).” Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2017. 
  • “Myelodysplastic Syndromes.” Cleveland Clinic, 08 Mar. 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2017. 

 

Finding the right doctor is a very important process. Treatment for blood disorders can be lengthy, which is why it is a good idea to make sure you have a strong relationship with your hematologist from the beginning. Here are three tips for choosing a hematologist:
 
blood disorders - coping and choosing a hematologist

 

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