Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) Treatment


A Myelodysplastic syndrome, also known as MDS, is a kind of blood and bone marrow cancer where stem cells do not get mature as they were supposed to due to incapability of bone marrow, which produces a number of immature cells (Blasts) along with abnormally developed cells called dysplastic cells. This can also result in reduction of healthy cells, which affects the functionality of bone marrow and decreases the red blood cells count, white blood cells and platelets.

There are many subtypes of MDS, and may cause Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a kind of blood cancer that develops through immature cells and spread quickly throughout the body.

What causes MDS?

The factors that are responsible for causing MDS differ from age and health condition of the patient.

Cancer diagnosis where methods such as chemotherapy ware used for treatment may cause MDS later.

Patients who have been diagnosed with ALL or AML in childhood have higher chances of developing MDS.

Several inheritance conditions also play a role in having MDS, which are:

  • Fanconi anemia

  • Shwachman Diamond syndrome

  • Severe congenital neutropenia

Exposure to industrial chemical can also raise risks of developing MDS

Excessive smoking for a long period of time can contribute to this cancer as well.

Diagnosis and treatment

It is significant to see a doctor when you experience symptoms such as unusual bleeding, fatigue, anemia, bruises, paleness and shortness of breath. Tell the doctor about your health issues history and perform a physical exam to check for possible causes. Blood samples may be used to test the kind of MDS you are diagnosed with. Bone marrow may be analyzed by inserting special needle through the hip.

There are many ways to treat MDS, which usually depends on the kind of MDS you have and its severity. Treatment can be done through:

Chemotherapy, where certain drugs are used to destroy the immature cells and stopping them from further developing. An oncologist performs the treatment where the drugs will enter into your bloodstream through IV tubes or by taking a pill or capsule, which reaches the cancer throughout the body. This process is very helpful for people who have a higher risk of developing AML, which is more than usual.

Immunotherapy or biologic therapy is also performed to treat MDS by enhancing the capabilities of the body’s natural defenses and help restore the strength of the immune system.

Stem cell and bone marrow transplantation used along with high dose chemotherapy is the most widely used methods of treating this cancer as it can provide long term remission. This is a rather risky procedure and is normally not recommended by doctors to patients who are older or have other medical conditions.


The treatment of MDS often causes some side effects which can be treated with palliative and supportive care. Side effects may include

Infection, which is quite normal in any cancer treatment

  • Anemia

  • Thrombocytopenia

  • Fatigue

  • Bleeding

  • Bruising

  • Loss of appetite

Post operative care

An MDS patient is supposed to be under hematologist care, even after the treatment.

Rehabilitation therapy can help the patient recover his or her strength and endurance back while reducing the weakness. Older people require much more assistance in order to increase the quality of life.

Visits to the counseling center and other supportive services may also help the patient to tackle with side effects both physically and emotionally.