Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)



What is myelodysplastic syndrome?

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) are a group of disorders caused by poorly formed or dysfunctional blood cells. Bone marrow is the spongy material inside your bones where blood cells are made.

It varies from person to person, depending on the type of syndrome you have. In the early stages of MDS, there are not any symptoms at all. Eventually, you may start to feel very tired and short of breath.

Other than stem cell transplants, there is no proven cure for MDS. But there are numerous treatment options to control symptoms, prevent complications, help you to live longer, and improve the quality of your life.

How common is myelodysplastic syndrome?

MDS are rare. It commonly affects more males than females. It can affect patients at any ages especially most people who get it are 65 or older. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of myelodysplastic syndrome?

Myelodysplastic syndrome rarely cause signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease. The common symptoms of myelodysplastic syndrome are:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual paleness (pallor) due to anemia
  • Easy or unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Pinpoint-sized red spots just beneath your skin caused by bleeding (petechiae)
  • Frequent infections

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Having skin that is paler than usual
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Petechiae (flat, pinpoint spots under the skin caused by bleeding)

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes myelodysplastic syndrome?

Myelodysplastic syndrome occur when the production of blood cells is disrupted and uncontrolled.

People with myelodysplastic syndrome have blood cells that are immature and defective instead of developing normally, they will die in the bone marrow or just after entering the bloodstream. Over time, the number of immature, defective cells begins to increase much more than the healthy blood cells. This can lead to problems such as anemia, infections and excess bleeding.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for myelodysplastic syndrome?

There are many risk factors for myelodysplastic syndrome, such as:

  • Older age. Most people with myelodysplastic syndrome are adults older than 60.
  • Treatment with chemotherapy or radiation. Myelodysplastic syndrome may develop if you received chemotherapy or radiation therapy, both of which are commonly used to treat cancer.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals. Chemicals linked to myelodysplastic syndrome include tobacco smoke, pesticides and industrial chemicals, such as benzene.
  • Exposure to heavy metals. Heavy metals linked to myelodysplastic syndrome include lead and mercury.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.


How is myelodysplastic syndrome diagnosed?

To figure out whether you have one of the myelodysplastic syndrome, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and history of other health problems. They might also:

  • Perform a physical exam to check for other possible reasons for your symptoms
  • Take a sample of blood to count the different types of cells
  • Get a sample of bone marrow for analysis
  • Order a genetic analysis of cells from the bone marrow

How is myelodysplastic syndrome treated?

If your symptoms are mild, you might be treated with low-intensity treatment

  • Chemotherapy drugs. These are also used for treating leukemia.
  • Immunosuppressive therapy. This treatment tries to stop your immune system from attacking your marrow. That can eventually help you rebuild your blood count.
  • Blood transfusions. These are common, safe, and might help some people with low blood counts.
  • Iron chelation. You can get too much iron in your blood if you have a lot of transfusions. This therapy can reduce how much of that mineral you have.
  • Growth factors. These man-made hormones “encourage” your bone marrow to make more blood cells.

If your condition is more severe, your doctor might consider high-intensity treatment.

  • Stem cell transplant. This is the only treatment that can actually cure myelodysplastic syndrome. Your doctor will order a series of chemotherapy or radiation sessions to destroy cells in your bone marrow. You’ll then get stem cells from a donor. Stem cells can come from bone marrow or they can come from blood. These cells then start to make new blood cells in your body.
  • Combo chemotherapy. This is when you may get several types of chemotherapy and is considered “high intensity.”

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage myelodysplastic syndrome?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with myelodysplastic syndrome:

  • Wash your hands. Reduce your risk of infection by frequently washing your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water, especially before eating or preparing food. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for times when water isn’t available.
  • Take care with food. Cook all meat and fish is necessary. Avoid fruits and vegetables that you can’t peel, especially lettuce, and wash all produce you do use before peeling. Make sure that you avoid raw foods entirely.
  • Avoid people who are ill. Because myelodysplastic syndrome can affect your immune system, try to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick, including family members and co-workers.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: March 12, 2017 | Last Modified: April 16, 2017

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