Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Myelodysplastic Syndrome

What are myelodysplastic syndromes? — Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of conditions that involve the blood. Blood is made up of different types of cells. These cells are made in the center of bones, in a part called the bone marrow.
When people have MDS, their bone marrow does not work normally. It makes abnormal blood cells and does not make enough normal blood cells. This can cause symptoms.
What are the symptoms of MDS? — Some people with MDS have no symptoms. They might find out that they have MDS after they have blood tests for another reason.
Other people do have symptoms. They might:
Feel weak, tired, or dizzy
Have trouble thinking clearly
Have trouble breathing
Bruise or bleed more easily than usual
Get infections more easily or more often than usual
Is there a test for MDS? — Yes. To test for MDS, your doctor or nurse can do:
Blood tests
Bone marrow biopsy – During this procedure, a small sample of the bone marrow is removed with a needle. Then a doctor looks at the cells under a microscope to see if abnormal cells are present.
There are different types of MDS. Your doctor will use your test results to figure out which type you have.
How is MDS treated? — The right treatment for you will depend, for the most part, on the type of MDS you have, your symptoms, and your overall health. Most treatments do not cure MDS. But treatments can improve symptoms and help people feel better.
Doctors usually treat MDS with one or more of the following:
Blood transfusions – A blood transfusion is when a person gets blood that was given (donated) by another person.
Medicines – Doctors can use different types of medicines to treat MDS. These medicines work in different ways. Some medicines help the bone marrow make more blood cells. Other medicines affect the body's infection-fighting system.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the medical term for medicines that kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. It can be used to target the abnormal cells found in MDS.
Bone marrow transplant (also called "stem cell transplant") – This treatment uses chemotherapy to kill the abnormal cells in the bone marrow. These dead cells are then replaced with "donor" cells. The "donor" cells can come from different places. They usually come from people whose blood matches yours. Bone marrow transplant is the only treatment that can cure MDS.
Your doctor or nurse might also talk with you about being in a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a research study that uses volunteers to test new treatments or new combinations of current treatments.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 16328 Version 11.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
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