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Myelodysplastic syndromes: Overview of symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and more

  • Posted on- Oct 15, 2015
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Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) are a group of varied bone marrow disorders in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. Myelodysplastic syndromes occur when something goes wrong in your bone marrow. It is commonly known as a “bone marrow failure disorder.” Though the disease is mostly seen in patients older than age 65, it can affect younger patients as well. Myelodysplastic Syndromes are marked by low numbers of blood cells or defective blood cells.

Symptoms associated with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)

Myelodysplastic syndromes rarely cause any signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When the disease advances, it may cause the following symptoms:


Tests and diagnosis for Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)

If abnormal numbers of blood cells are found in your blood, your doctor may begin with tests and procedures to rule out diseases and conditions other than myelodysplastic syndromes that have similar signs and symptoms. Tests and procedures performed to diagnose myelodysplastic syndromes include:
  • Blood tests: Your doctor may suggest blood tests to measure the number of blood cells in a sample of your blood and check your blood for unusual changes in the size, shape and appearance of various blood cells.
  • Removing bone marrow for testing: Also known as bone marrow biopsy and aspiration, this procedure involves the doctor using a thin needle to withdraw a small amount of liquid bone marrow from your hipbone. After that a small piece of bone and the enclosed marrow also is removed. The samples are then sent to lab for testing.

Treatment options for Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)

The aim of the treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes is to slow the progression of the disease and supportive care to help manage symptoms such as fatigue and to prevent bleeding and infections. Treatment options for myelodysplastic syndromes include:
  • Blood transfusions: They can be used to replace red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets.
  • Medications that increase the number of blood cells your body makes: These medications are artificial versions of substances found naturally in your bone marrow and significantly reduce the need for blood transfusions by increasing red blood cells.
  • Medications that stimulate blood cells to mature: Such medications improve the quality of life of people with certain myelodysplastic syndromes and reduce the risk of acute myelogenous leukaemia.
  • Medications that suppress your immune system: Drugs used to suppress the immune system may be used in certain myelodysplastic syndromes.
  • Bone marrow stem cell transplant: During a bone marrow stem cell transplant, your defective blood cells are destroyed using chemotherapy drugs. Then the abnormal bone marrow stem cells are replaced with healthy, donated cells.

Because patients with myelodysplastic syndromes have low white blood cell counts, they are vulnerable to recurrent serious infections. To reduce your risk of infections it’s important to wash your hands, take proper hygienic food and avoid people who are ill.