Know everything about Myelodysplastic Syndrome
MDS, the disease or Myelodysplastic syndromes is a blood disorder that causes a drop in the number of healthy blood cells. It is sometimes also referred to as bone marrow failure disorder. The bone marrow is a soft gelatinous tissue, found in bones and is responsible for producing red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body, white blood cells that help fight infection and platelets that help our blood to clot. In MDS, the bone marrow doesn’t make enough of these three types of blood cells. Instead, it makes undeveloped and abnormal cells that do not function properly. Gradually, the bone marrow becomes full of these abnormal blood cells, which eventually spills out into our bloodstream.
Depending on the type of blood cells affected, the main types of MDS are the following:
- Refractory anemia, where just the red blood cells are affected
- The refractory cytopenia, where the red blood cells and white blood cells are affected
- Refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB), where the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are affected and there is a higher risk of developing acute leukemia.
Symptoms of MDS-.
The symptoms of MDS are generally mild in the beginning. However, gradually, they get worse and we might experience weakness, tiredness and occasional breathlessness because of the lesser number of red blood cells; frequent infections because of the lesser number of white blood cells, bruising and easy bleeding because of the lower number of platelets. Other symptoms include painless and tiny red marks under the skin.
Diagnosis of MDS-.
To figure out whether a patient has any of the MDS, the doctor would inquire about symptoms and history of other health problems. Further, the doctor will conduct a physical exam to check for other possible reasons or the symptoms, take a sample of blood to count the different types of cells, get a sample of the bone marrow for analysis and order a genetic analysis of cells from the bone marrow.
Treatment of MDS largely depends on the type of MDS and its severity. The doctor may opt for any of the two forms of treatment- a low intensity treatment or a high intensity treatment. A low intensity treatment may include the following:
- A chemotherapy or an immunosuppressive therapy that tries to stop the immune system from attacking the bone marrow
- Blood transfusions or iron chelation to reduce the excessive iron in the blood
- Manmade growth factor hormones that encourage the bone marrow to make blood cells. li>If the symptoms persist, the doctor may opt for a high intensity treatment, which is stem cell transplant. This is the only treatment that can cure MDS.
A combination of several types of chemotherapies are also possible and these might include the use of a chemotherapy drug called azacytidine.
And remember, blood cancer is not a death sentence.