Knowing the Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
Did you know that in the United States, every year, about 10,000 people are diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), usually affecting older people? What may come as even more surprising is that the number of people diagnosed with the syndrome is expected to increase in the next few years.
What is myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)?
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a bone marrow disorder where your body doesn't produce enough healthy blood cells, also known as "bone marrow failure disorder." In every healthy person, red, white, and platelets are the three different blood cells that bone marrow creates. Additionally, it makes undeveloped blood cells known as stem cells that need to develop fully for the proper functioning of red and white blood cells and platelets. For people with myelodysplastic syndrome disorder, proper formation and proper functioning of the stem cells do not occur, which is why patients with myelodysplastic syndrome always have low blood cell count. In the past, the myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) was known as pre-leukemia, but now, after doctors' research, it is considered a form of cancer.
The World Health Organization has classified the Myelodysplastic Syndromes on the following:
- kind of blood cells affected
- percentage of immature cells (blasts)
- number of dysplastic (abnormally shaped) cells
- presence of ring sideroblasts (an RBC that has extra iron collected in a ring in its center)
- changes in chromosomes seen in bone marrow cells
Causes of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).
The exact cause of the myelodysplastic syndrome is not clear, but there is an apprehension of a higher risk of contamination for some people. Radiation or chemotherapy is one of the known factors of developing this disorder. Those receiving cancer treatment may develop myelodysplastic syndrome even after completing treatment, which is known as "Secondary MDS ." The Secondary MDS is usually combined with the chromosome abnormalities within the bone marrow. Exposure to chemicals like benzene is another known cause of developing myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), and those who are involved in occupations like coal mining, painting, and embalming have a high risk of contracting the disease. Neither the disease is contagious, nor is there any proof of genetic transmission of the disease.
Who are at risk?
Most people above the age of 65 are at a higher risk of developing the disease. Also, The condition is more common in men than in women. If you are being treated with chemotherapy or have taken any radiation therapy earlier, you are more likely to develop the disease. Certain drugs used to treat cancer like procarbazine, ifosfamide, teniposide, and doxorubicin are also linked to developing the myelodysplastic syndrome. Smoking can also be a potential risk of developing MDS as it causes certain cancers, especially lung cancer. Exposure to certain harmful chemicals and radiation for more extended periods increases the risk of contaminating the disease.
Symptoms of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)
You may not experience any symptoms at the initial stage of myelodysplastic syndrome. If your blood cell count is low, you will experience the symptoms. Several people along with MSD will experience anemia as it includes constant low hematocrit. Usually, anemic people experience fatigue, heart palpitations, pale skin, and shortness of breath, while severely anemic people may also have chest pain. Having low white cell count or neutropenia is also a sign of MDS, and people having neutropenia will have skin infections, sinus infections, lung infections, or urinary tract infections. Low platelet count or thrombocytopenia is another sign of myelodysplastic syndrome, and people having thrombocytopenia bleed easily and may often have nosebleeds and bleeding in the gums.
Treatment options for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)
Age, health condition, or the patient's risk group are specific factors that play an essential role while treating the myelodysplastic syndrome. The most successful treatment is stem cell transplant for several cases, but it requires a matching donor, which is almost rare for unhealthy ones. Though the symptoms can be treated, it's quite challenging to treat the disease without a stem cell transplant. Transfusions and blood cell growth factors can be helpful for people having low blood cell counts. Drugs that increase the blood cell counts and life expectancy are other treatments, while for advanced myelodysplastic syndrome, standard chemotherapy can also be an option to treat the disease. Though the condition is treatable, it can be challenging while treating and healing it effectively.
To know more about bone marrow and myelodysplastic syndrome, sign up for the below eMedEvents conferences, webcasts, and podcasts:
1. New Horizons in the Management of Myelodysplastic Syndromes: Exploring Advancements from Low-to-High-Risk Disease
Organizer: Physicians` Education Resource, LLC (PER)
Start Date: Sep 03, 2020
End Date: Sep 03, 2021
Credits: CME 1.5
Ticket Cost: Free
2. Interactive Online Case Studies: Leukaemia, Myelodysplastic Syndromes, and Myeloproliferative Disorders-Case 3
Organizer: National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)
Start Date: Nov 17, 2020
End Date: Oct 30, 2021
Credits: CME 0.25
Ticket Cost: Free
3. Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Organizer: The Ohio State University Centre for Continuing Medical Education (OSUCCME)
Start Date: June 26, 2020
End Date: June 26, 2023
Credits: CME 1
Ticket Cost: $25