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Home > Cancers Treated > Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) 

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More than 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with MDS annually.

What is MDS?

MDS refers to a group of disorders in which bone marrow and its stem cells can’t adequately make healthy blood cells (the blood cells are poorly formed or dysfunctional). For 1 in 3 people with MDS, the condition can lead to an aggressive bone marrow cancer called acute myeloid leukemia.

Who develops MDS?

Risk factors for MDS include:

  • being Caucasian
  • being male
  • being over age 60
  • chemical exposure (cigarette smoke, pesticides, etc.)
  • exposure to heavy metals, such as lead and mercury
  • having had chemotherapy or radiation treatments

What are the symptoms of MDS?

Early on, symptoms are rare. As the disease progresses, a person with MDS may experience:

  • breathing problems
  • fatigue
  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • extreme paleness
  • regular infections
  • tiny red spots under the skin

Some of these symptoms may indicate another illness or condition. If you experience any of these, discuss them with your physician.

How is MDS diagnosed?

Blood counts and analyzing the appearance of the blood cells can help diagnose MDS. Your physician may also recommend a bone marrow biopsy to look for abnormalities.

How is MDS treated?

Because MDS is a group of diseases, the different types vary in their responses to treatment. Generally, treatment options may include chemotherapy, growth factors (hormone-like substances that stimulate bone marrow), supportive therapy to help prevent complications and stem cell transplantation.

To learn more about cancer services at The Daniel and Gloria Blumenthal Cancer Center, call 201-634-5339.

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