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Myelodysplastic syndrome, vile of blood graphic

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a condition that affects the blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow. Scientists in the general medical community continue to make progress in understanding the causes and effects of MDS, which is considered to be a form of cancer. In some cases, the malignancy progresses into acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive type of blood cancer.

How does myelodysplastic syndrome affect the blood?

Normally, a healthy blood stem cell will progress through several stages to mature into an oxygen-carrying red blood cell, a blood-clotting platelet or an infection-fighting white blood cell. Myelodysplastic syndrome interferes with the development of immature blood cells, causing them to die while still in the bone marrow or shortly after entering the bloodstream. Sometimes, the body may detect the defective cells and naturally destroy them. In either scenario, the body will end up with a shortage of healthy blood cells.

How does myelodysplastic syndrome affect the body?

The symptoms of MDS can vary depending on which type of blood cells are in short supply:

  • Red blood cells (anemia) – Headache, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, pale skin and fatigue
  • White blood cells (neutropenia) – Recurrent infections, especially in the lungs, throat, ears, sinuses, mouth and skin
  • Platelets (thrombocytopenia) – Excessive bleeding, bruising, nosebleeds and pinpoint red spots (petechiae) or rashes on the skin

Entrust your care to Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center has one of the most comprehensive MDS treatment programs in the nation. The multispecialty team in our Malignant Hematology Program provides individualized care for patients with all forms of MDS and AML. Many of our patients benefit from a high-dose course of chemotherapy followed by a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Other options include traditional chemotherapy, immunotherapy and blood transfusions.

If you have questions or would like to explore your treatment options for myelodysplastic syndrome, you are welcome to request an appointment with an expert at Moffitt. To do so, please call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online. As our patient, you can feel confident that we will begin planning your personalized treatment right away—even before your first visit with our team.