Myelodysplastic syndromes are a cluster of diseases produced by dysfunctional or irregular blood cells. Myelodysplastic syndromes arise when there are irregularities in the spongy areas of the bones where blood cells are created, known as the bone marrow. Myelodysplastic syndromes are found in about 10,000 people per year in the US.
Based on the risk group (revised International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS-R) risk groups) of a patient’s specific disease, the median survival period for patients can range from 8.8 years (very low risk) to less than a year (very high risk). A patient should discuss their risk group with their provider to get a median survival period specific to them.
Median survival is a way to determine the potential results of a disease. It is the time after diagnosis in which 50% of patients are still alive and 50% have passed. It is a middle value. Fifty percent of the patients will live longer than the median survival period, and 50% of the patients will not live past the median survival period.
There are factors that increase the chances of having Myelodysplastic Syndrome.
The symptoms associated with Myelodysplastic Syndromes include the following: feelings of tiredness, shortness of breath, uncharacteristic pastiness/paleness due to anemia (low blood cell count), uncommon bruising/bleeding due to low platelet counts in the blood, petechiae (tiny spots on the skin caused by bleeding under the skin), repeated infections due to leukopenia (a low number of white blood cells in the blood).
If a doctor thinks a patient has myelodysplastic syndrome, s/he may conduct tests to confirm a diagnosis. The tests could include several things.
If a patient has no symptoms, with a doctor’s consultation, the patient may decide to take the watchful waiting approach. This means the patient will not be on treatment but they will get frequent evaluations and undergo diagnostic checks to monitor the progress of their disease.
“Myelodysplastic Syndromes Treatment (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version.” National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, 2019. https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloproliferative/hp/myelodysplastic-treatment-pdq#_1 .
“Survival Statistics for Myelodysplastic Syndromes.” American Cancer Society, 2019. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival.html .
“Myelodysplastic syndromes.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2019.
Web links about Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Patient education: Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) in adults (Beyond the Basics)
Myelodysplastic Syndromes Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version
Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
What Are Myelodysplastic Syndromes?