Short Version-

Myelodysplastic (my-low-dis-PLAS-tic) syndromes–or MDS–are a group of conditions caused by abnormal blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. The word myelo refers to bone marrow and dysplastic to abnormal growth. In MDS, the bone marrow cannot make the right kind of blood cells. These abnormal blood cells die before they leave the bone marrow or shortly after getting into the bloodstream. As a result, people with MDS have too few healthy blood cells. Their blood cell counts are said to be low.

In the past, MDS was not thought to be cancer. But now most experts in blood diseases think that it is a form of cancer. This is because, like cancer, all the cells look alike. They seem to have started from a single abnormal cell.

Also, in about 3 out of 10 cases, the MDS will become a form of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia. Some doctors think MDS is an early form of leukemia, although not all cases of MDS will become leukemia.
American Cancer Society

More Depth-

I hyjacked this from 2 websites. You can go read the whole thing by clicking on the links, but I will give you the highlights.

Myelodysplastic (my-low-dis-PLAS-tic) syndromes–or MDS–are a group of conditions caused by abnormal blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. The wordmyelo refers to bone marrow and dysplastic to abnormal growth. In MDS, the bone marrow cannot make the right kind of blood cells. These abnormal blood cells die before they leave the bone marrow or shortly after getting into the bloodstream. As a result, people with MDS have too few healthy blood cells. Their blood cell counts are said to be low.

In the past, MDS was not thought to be cancer. But now most experts in blood diseases think that it is a form of cancer. This is because, like cancer, all the cells look alike. They seem to have started from a single abnormal cell.

Also, in about 3 out of 10 cases, the MDS will become a form of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia. Some doctors think MDS is an early form of leukemia, although not all cases of MDS will become leukemia.
American Cancer Society

 

Some types of MDS are mild and easily managed, while other types are severe and life-threatening. Mild MDS can grow more severe over time. It can also develop into a fast-growing, severe leukemia called acute myelogenous leukemia.
About 10,000 to 15,000 people are diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes in the United States each year. Although MDS can affect people of any age, more than 80% of cases are in people over age 60. MDS is more common in men than in women.

Causes of MDS

In MDS, the bone marrow does not make enough normal blood cells for the body. One, two or all three types of blood cells — red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets — may be affected. The marrow may also make unformed cells called blasts. Blasts normally develop into red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. In MDS, the blasts are abnormal and do not develop or function normally.

MDS symptoms

The symptoms of MDS depend on how severe the disease is. Many people with MDS have no symptoms when they are diagnosed. Their disease is found through a routine blood test. If a person does have symptoms, they are caused by low numbers of blood cells:

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Low numbers can lead to anemia — feeling tired or weak, being short of breath and looking pale. Anemia is the most common symptom of MDS.
  • White blood cells fight infection. Low numbers can lead to fever and frequent infections.
  • Platelets control bleeding. Low numbers can lead to easy bleeding or bruising.

In severe MDS, infection or uncontrolled bleeding can be life-threatening.

Treatment options

The best treatment for a person with MDS depends on his or her type of MDS, risk level, age, overall health and his or her own preferences. The treatment options (all discussed further below) include:

  • Supportive care
  • Bone marrow or cord blood transplant (BMT)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Newer drug therapies

Bone marrow or cord blood transplant for MDS

The only known treatment that can bring a long-term remission from MDS is a bone marrow or cord blood transplant (also called a BMT). A transplant replaces the abnormal cells in the bone marrow with healthy blood-forming cells from a family member or unrelated donor or cord blood unit.

National Marrow Donor Program

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.