Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) Types and Treatments
Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells.
Normally, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells (immature cells) that develop over time into mature blood cells:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
In myelodysplastic syndromes, the blood stem cells do not mature into healthy red blood cells. The immature blood cells, called blasts, do not function normally, and die in the bone marrow or soon after they enter the blood.
This leaves less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets to develop in the bone marrow. When there are fewer blood cells, infection, anemia, or easy bleeding may occur.
Types of Myelodysplastic Syndromes
People with myelodysplastic syndromes have too few of one or more types of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow or blood. Myelodysplastic syndromes include the following diseases:
- Refractory anemia
- Refractory anemia with:
- Ringed sideroblasts
- Excess blasts
- Excess blasts in transformation
- Refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia
- Myelodysplastic syndrome associated with an isolated del(5q) chromosome abnormality
- Unclassifiable myelodysplastic syndrome
Treatments for Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Treatments for people with myelodysplastic syndromes aim to:
- Relieve symptoms
- Slow progression of the disease
- Improve quality of life
Types of treatments include:
- Supportive care, such as:
- Transfusion therapy (blood transfusion), a method of giving red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets to replace blood cells destroyed by disease or treatment.
- Growth factor therapy to increase the number of red blood cells.
- Drug therapy to lessen the need for blood transfusions.
- Chemotherapy with stem cell transplant to replace blood-forming cells destroyed by chemotherapy treatment.
Learn more about myelodysplastic syndromes from the National Cancer Institute.