What is myelodysplastic syndromes?

Myelodysplastic Syndromes
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Myelodysplastic syndromes: Overview

Myelodysplastic syndromes, also called MDS, are a group of cancers in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells. Normally, the bone marrow makes red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These cells carry oxygen in the blood, help the body fight infections, and help the blood clot. With MDS, you may feel weak and tired, get infections often, and bleed easily, although symptoms tend to vary.

MDS is a form of blood cancer. In some cases, MDS can turn into acute myeloid leukemia (AML), another type of cancer. Some people develop MDS after treatment for cancer or exposure to pesticides or other chemicals. But in most cases, the cause of MDS is not known.

Your doctor will use the results of tests, including blood tests, to guide your treatment. There are many types of MDS, with different treatment plans for each. If you have enough red blood cells and are feeling all right, you may not need active treatment, but you and your doctor will want to watch your condition carefully. If you start feeling lightheaded and have no energy, you may need a blood transfusion. Other treatments include medicines like chemotherapy and stem cell transplants.

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of cancers in which the bone marrow makes abnormal blood cells and doesn't make enough healthy blood cells. Having fewer healthy blood cells can cause infections, anemia, or problems with bleeding. In some cases, MDS turns into acute myeloid leukemia.

Treatment of MDS may include blood transfusions and medicines, including chemotherapy. A stem cell transplant may also be an option.

How can you care for yourself when you have myelodysplastic syndrome?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat food that has protein and extra calories to keep up your strength and prevent weight loss.
  • Get some physical activity every day, but do not get too tired.
  • Get enough sleep and take time to do things you enjoy. This can help reduce stress.
  • Think about joining a support group. Or discuss your concerns with your doctor, counselor, or other health professional.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make blood problems worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • If you have not already done so, prepare a list of advance directives. Advance directives are instructions to your doctor and family members about what kind of care you want if you become unable to speak or express yourself.

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