Myelodysplastic Syndromes

What are myelodysplastic syndromes?
Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. Myelodysplastic syndromes are not bone cancer, rather they are a cancer of the bone marrow. There are several types of myelodysplastic disease. For people with myelodysplastic syndrome, the bone marrow does not produce fully mature blood cells, which causes them to not function properly. These immature blood cells enter the bloodstream and crowd out the healthier blood cells. When there are fewer functioning blood cells, a person is more prone to developing anemia, infections, and other diseases.

What causes myelodysplastic syndrome?
There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing myelodysplastic syndrome:
• Past treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
• Exposure to heavy metals such as mercury or lead
• Exposure to chemicals such as tobacco smoke, benzene, pesticides and solvents

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get myelodysplastic syndrome.

What are the symptoms of myelodysplastic syndromes?
• Weakness or fatigue
• Feeling short of breath
• Fever
• Easy bleeding or bruising
• Frequent infections
• Pale skin

How are myelodysplastic syndromes diagnosed?
At KHCC, physicians use a variety of diagnostic procedures and techniques to ensure the most accurate diagnosis possible, including:
• Complete blood count (CBC) test and other blood tests
• Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy to examine the bone marrow for abnormalities
• Cytogenetic analysis to look for changes in the chromosomes of blood or bone marrow cells

How are myelodysplastic syndromes treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the disease has spread throughout the body.

There are different types of treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes, depending on the type of syndrome as well as the condition and general health of the patient. Myelodysplastic syndrome is a chronic disease, for which there is no cure, so the general aim of treatment is to relieve the symptoms and controlling the disease to improve the patient’s quality of life. Treatment for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes can include chemotherapy, blood transfusions, and stem cell transplants.

At KHCC, myelodysplastic syndrome patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of specialists highly experienced in treating myelodysplastic syndromes and other blood disorders.
Supportive Care
The leukemia & MDS multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that patients with myelodysplastic syndromes can receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: