Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a set of illnesses that affect the bone marrow and blood cells. It is a particular sort of cancer whereby the bone marrow produces insufficient healthy blood cells. Blood cells are made by the bone marrow, which also starts to produce aberrant, dysfunctional cells. This may lead to a deficiency of one or more blood cell types, including platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells.
Myelodysplastic syndromes – Signs
The signs and symptoms of MDS might vary, some of which are vague and could be confused with those of other diseases. Some symptoms of MDS include:
Weakness and weariness
Problems with breathing
Stiffness or pain in the chest
Irregular or fast heartbeat
Unsteadiness or faintness
MDS may go unnoticed by some patients, and the disorder may still be found through standard blood tests.
Myelodysplastic syndromes – Causes
MDS is not entirely recognized to have specific causes. However, several indicators that may raise the possibility of MDS have been discovered. They are:
Older persons are more likely to have MDS diagnosed, and the risk increases with age.
Exposure to certain chemicals
Exposure to specific substances has been associated with a higher risk of MDS, including benzene, insecticides, and industrial chemicals.
The bone marrow can be harmed by radiation treatment for cancer, which raises the possibility of MDS.
Radiation treatment with chemotherapy can at times harm the bone marrow and increase the risk of MDS.
Genetic mutations are passed down through families. In rare instances, MDS can result from hereditary mutations that impact how blood cells are made.
Prior blood disorders
Individuals having a history of outbreaks of nocturnal hemoglobin (PNH) or aplastic anemia may be more susceptible to MDS than those without such a history.
It is significant to remember that a person does not necessarily have a specific risk factor for developing MDS.
Myelodysplastic syndromes – Diagnosis
MDS can be diagnosed using a combination of medical history, blood tests, physical examination, and bone marrow biopsy.
Medical history and physical exam
The healthcare provider will enquire about symptoms, medical history, and MDS risk factors during the medical history and physical exam. A physical examination will also check for any physical indicators of anemia, infection, or bleeding.
Blood tests can be performed to determine the quantity of the blood cells, composition, and purpose. An aberrant blood cell count or morphology may be present in MDS patients.
Bone marrow biopsy
The most accurate technique to diagnose MDS is by a bone marrow biopsy. A small sample of bone marrow is taken during a bone marrow biopsy and inspected under a microscope to check for deviations in the formation of blood cells.
Chromosome analysis, which can be used to detect genetic mutations or deviations, and flow cytometry, which is a method that can be used to assess the surface markers found on blood cells, are additional procedures that may be used to assist in the diagnosis of MDS.
More testing may be required after the first diagnosis to identify the subtype and severity of MDS. This knowledge can guide decisions on prognosis and therapy.
Myelodysplastic syndromes – Treatment
The treatment for MDS is based on several variables, including the patient’s overall health, the disease’s severity, and the subtype of MDS. It is crucial to explore the potential advantages and disadvantages of each treatment option with a medical expert to choose the optimal course of therapy for each patient.
Treatment choices could be:
This can include prescription treatment to treat infections or restore low blood cell counts with blood transfusions.
Prescription treatments used in chemotherapy can be used to kill aberrant bone marrow cells and enhance blood cell production.
Bone marrow transplant
A bone marrow transplant may be advised for younger MDS patients with a high-risk subtype or who have not responded to conventional treatments.
Some patients may participate in clinical trials for novel therapies.
The long-term outlook for MDS varies depending on its subtypes, and the patient’s general health. The severity of the condition, the age of the patient, and general health all play a role in the treatment decision. However, early detection and therapy can improve outcomes.