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MDS chemotherapy is a systemic treatment through which powerful drugs enter and travel through a patient’s bloodstream to reach abnormal cells located throughout the patient’s body. Because MDS can potentially progress to leukemia, some patients with MDS are treated with the same chemotherapy drugs that are otherwise used to treat leukemia. This can reduce the number of unhealthy cells and promote the production of healthy cells; however, unless the treatment is followed by a stem cell transplant, its effects will be temporary. To prepare a patient for a stem cell transplant, a high dosage of chemotherapy drugs may be administered to destroy all of the patient’s bone marrow prior to the introduction of healthy stem cells.

The chemotherapy drugs that are used for addressing MDS can vary based on the goal of the treatment as follows:

  • To destroy MDS cells, a physician may prescribe a combination of standard chemotherapy drugs, such as cytarabine and idarubicin, cytarabine and topotecan or cytarabine and fludarabine.

  • To slow the growth of cancerous cells, a physician may prescribe hypomethylating agents, such as decitabine or azacitidine.

  • To alter a patient’s immune system, a physician may prescribe immunomodulating drugs, such as thalidomide or lenalidomide.

  • To suppress a patient’s immune system, a physician may prescribe immunosuppression agents, such as anti-thymocyte globulin or cyclosporine.

These MDS chemotherapy drugs can be used alone, in combination with other anticancer drugs or with drugs in other categories, such as medications that target proteins associated with blood cell growth and bone marrow development.

As a nationally recognized leader in MDS treatment, Moffitt Cancer Center is committed to learning more about these conditions and how they can ultimately be cured. With a dedicated research team that works closely with our expert oncologists, Moffitt continues to pave the way for better MDS treatment options and patient outcomes. Our Malignant Hematology Program has a robust portfolio of clinical trials, and our past research studies have resulted in approvals of several innovative drugs for MDS treatment. In recognition of these groundbreaking efforts, Moffitt has been named a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.

MDS chemotherapy is available at all Moffitt locations. If you’d like to learn more, we provide consultations with or without referrals. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.