Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), are a type of complex blood disorder. In MDS, the body's bone marrow creates abnormal blood cells. These abnormal cells can’t produce enough healthy blood — including red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. MDS can follow exposure to certain chemicals or radiation, or it can be due to an inherited gene problem. It’s estimated that up to 20,000 Americans are impacted by the disorder each year.
What causes MDS?
The cause of MDS varies from person to person. In some cases, the disorder is caused by inherited genetic disorders. Other possible causes of MDS are exposure to certain chemo or radiation treatments, or certain medications. It’s also possible that no cause is identified.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of MDS include but are not limited to:
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent infections
- Frequent bruising or bleeding
- Pale skin
- Weight loss
Diagnosis and Treatment for MDS
In order to diagnose MDS, your doctor will perform a physical exam and blood test. Additionally, your doctor may order a bone marrow test to look for abnormal cells. If MDS is found, a biopsy may be recommended. The biopsy can help determine how severe the condition is.
Treatment for MDS may include blood transfusions, chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, and medications. Some people may need a combination of treatments. It’s important to discuss with your doctor the potential risks and benefits associated with MDS treatments.