Myelodysplastic syndromes: Introduction
Myelodysplastic syndromes include a number of serious, chronic diseases that affect the blood and the bone marrow and result in the formation of abnormal blood cells. Types of myelodysplastic syndrome include myelodysplastic syndrome associated with an isolated del(5q) chromosome abnormality, unclassified myelodysplastic syndrome, and a variety of refractory anemias and refractory cytopenias.
Myelodysplastic syndromes affect the body's process of developing and growing normal blood cells. Blood cells begin in the bone marrow, which is specialized spongy tissue found inside some bones. The bone marrow normally produces healthy blood stem cells. Blood stem cells are non-specific young cells that develop into many different types of blood cells over time. These include various types of white blood cells, which fight disease and infection, and red blood cells, which carry oxygen and other important nutrients to the cells of the body. These also include platelets, which are vital to normal clotting.
In myelodysplastic anemia these blood stem cells do not develop into normal versions of mature blood cells, and they either die while still in the bone marrow or soon after release into the bloodstream. Dead cells crowd out the development of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow and eventually lead to an inadequate number of healthy blood cells. This condition is called cytopenia.
This process results in various symptoms that can vary between individuals and the type of blood cells that are affected. In the early stages of myelodysplastic syndromes, there may be no symptoms. As the specific disease progresses, symptoms may include easy bruising or bleeding, shortness of breath, frequent infections, and fatigue. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of myelodysplastic syndromes.
Myelodysplastic syndromes can lead to serious, even life-threatening complications, such as uncontrolled hemorrhage, anemia, and recurrent infections. People with myelodysplastic syndromes also have an increased risk of developing leukemia, a kind of cancer that affects the blood cells.
People who have had chemotherapy and radiation therapy are at risk for developing a myelodysplastic syndrome, because these treatments can affect the development of healthy blood cells. Other people with an increased risk for developing the disease include being male, being older than 60 years, and exposure to certain toxins, including tobacco smoke, solvents, pesticides, and heavy metals, such as mercury and lead.
Making a diagnosis of a myelodysplastic syndrome begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. It also includes performing a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC), which measures the numbers of the different types of blood cells in the body.
Other diagnostic tests include a peripheral blood smear, a blood test that detects abnormal changes in blood cells. A bone marrow biopsy tales a sample of bone marrow and checks it for abnormal cells. A cytogenetic analysis looks at blood or bone marrow for chromosomal changes indicating myelodysplastic syndrome.
A diagnosis of a myelodysplastic syndrome can easily be delayed because some symptoms, such as fatigue and weakness may be associated with less serious conditions, such as aging. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of myelodysplastic syndromes.
There is no cure for myelodysplastic syndromes, and the prognosis depends on various factors, including the specific cause and type of blood cells affected. Treatment is aimed at minimizing symptoms and preventing and treating complications. This may involve a combination of medications, blood transfusions, and a bone marrow stem cell transplant. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes. ...more »
Myelodysplastic syndromes: A group of syndromes characterized by a disruption in the production of blood cells. Often the bone marrow increases production of various blood cells but because many of them are defective, they are destroyed before the reach the blood stream.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Myelodysplastic syndromes is available below.
Myelodysplastic syndromes: Symptoms
The symptoms of myelodysplastic syndromes result from the production of abnormal blood cells. When the body doesn't have enough normal blood cells, such processes as oxygen delivery to cells, fighting infections, and the clotting of blood are seriously affected. This process results in symptoms that can vary between individuals and the type of blood ...more symptoms »
Myelodysplastic syndromes: Treatments
Myelodysplastic syndromes are not curable, but they can be treated in many people, allowing them to live productive lives. The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, and to prevent and promptly treat complications, such as anemia, uncontrolled hemorrhage, and serious recurrent infections.
To achieve this requires regular medical care ...more treatments »
Myelodysplastic syndromes: Misdiagnosis
Because there frequently are no symptoms of myelodysplastic syndromes in the early phases of the diseases, people may be unaware that something is wrong. This can result in a delay in seeking medical care and a diagnosis. In addition, symptoms, such as fatigue and weakness may be mistaken by older people as a normal part of the aging process, further ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Myelodysplastic syndromes
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symptoms of Myelodysplastic syndromes
Treatments for Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Supportive treatments
- Blood transfusion for symptomatic anaemia
- Platelet transfusion for thrombocytopenia associated with bleeding
- Aggressive management of infections
- Erythropoietin - for anaemia
- more treatments...»
Read more about treatments for Myelodysplastic syndromes
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Causes of Myelodysplastic syndromes
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Myelodysplastic syndromes: Rare Types
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Definitions of Myelodysplastic syndromes:
A myelodysplastic syndrome characterized mainly by dysplasia of the erythroid series. Refractory anemia is uncommon. It is primarily a disease of older adults. The median survival exceeds 5 years. (WHO, 2001) -- 2003
- (Source - Diseases Database)
Myelodysplastic syndromes is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of
Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). This means that Myelodysplastic syndromes, or a subtype of Myelodysplastic syndromes,
affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Ophanet, a consortium of European partners,
currently defines a condition rare when it affects 1 person per 2,000.
They list Myelodysplastic syndromes as a "rare disease".
Source - Orphanet
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