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Myelodysplastic Syndrome

What is Myelodysplastic Syndrome?

Myelodysplastic syndromes are conditions where the bone marrow does not function properly and there is a critical shortage of normally functioning blood cells. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside the large bones in the body. Myelodysplastic syndromes causes blood cells to mature improperly leading to fewer red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Myelodysplastic Syndrome can occur at any age but it is more likely to develop in people older than 60 years. It is a serious condition. It can lead to acute myelogenous leukemia.

Function of Bone Marrow

Bone marrow is responsible for making red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells carry oxygen and other materials to all tissues of the body. White blood cells fight infection. Platelets make the blood clot. When the bone marrow functions properly, it produces bone marrow cells called blasts. Blasts develop into several different types of blood cells that have specific jobs in the body.

Signs of Myelodysplastic Syndrome

The most common signs are: anemia, fatigue, infections, bleeding and bruising.

What causes Myelodysplastic Syndrome?

The exact cause is unknown. In some people, it develops following treatment with drugs or radiation therapy for other diseases. It may also develop without any known cause.

How is Myelodysplastic Syndrome diagnosed?

Your doctor will perform blood tests to count the number of each kind of blood cell. If the results of the blood test are not normal, the doctor may perform a bone marrow biopsy.

Can Myelodysplastic Syndrome be treated?

Myelodysplastic Syndrome can be treated but not cured. Treatments are focused on controlling the symptoms and improving the quality of life. Some of the most common treatments are: blood transfusions, antibiotics, chemotherapy, and stem cell transplantation.

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