Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.

Myelodysplastic syndromes

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 cells that are ...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 and a ...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 delaying a diagnosis. In addition, symptoms, ...more misdiagnosis »

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...»

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Myelodysplastic syndromes:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndromes?

Myelodysplastic syndromes: Related Patient Stories

Myelodysplastic syndromes: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Myelodysplastic syndromes.

Myelodysplastic syndromes: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Myelodysplastic syndromes:

Causes of Myelodysplastic syndromes

Read more about causes of Myelodysplastic syndromes.

More information about causes of Myelodysplastic syndromes:

Myelodysplastic syndromes: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Myelodysplastic syndromes

Unnecessary hysterectomies due to undiagnosed bleeding disorder in women: The bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand's disease is quite common in women, but more »

Spitz nevi misdiagnosed as dangerous melanoma skin cancer: One possible misdiagnosis to consider in lieu of melanoma is spitz nevi. See more »

Myelodysplastic syndromes: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Myelodysplastic syndromes

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Myelodysplastic syndromes:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Myelodysplastic syndromes, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Myelodysplastic syndromes: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Myelodysplastic syndromes

Medical research articles related to Myelodysplastic syndromes include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Myelodysplastic syndromes: Animations

Prognosis for Myelodysplastic syndromes

Research about Myelodysplastic syndromes

Visit our research pages for current research about Myelodysplastic syndromes treatments.

Clinical Trials for Myelodysplastic syndromes

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Myelodysplastic syndromes include:

Statistics for Myelodysplastic syndromes

Myelodysplastic syndromes: Broader Related Topics

Myelodysplastic syndromes Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Myelodysplastic syndromes, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

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


By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use. Information provided on this site is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for advice from your own medical team. The information on this site is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health concerns you may have - please contact your physician or health care professional for all your medical needs. Please see our Terms of Use.

Home | Symptoms | Diseases | Diagnosis | Videos | Tools | Forum | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Advertise