Myelodysplastic syndromes – Signs and management

Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of disorders caused by poorly formed blood cells or those that don’t function properly. This condition results from something missing in the spongy section inside the bones where the blood cells are formed (bone marrow). However, some signs and symptoms can help diagnose the condition, followed by a treatment or management plan that helps keep the body functioning well. Read more to discover the common signs and a management plan.

Signs and symptoms
These do not appear at the start and will start to show when the condition has started affecting other body parts.

  • Shortness in breath
  • Unusual paleness caused by a lack of red blood cells, also called anemia
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising that happens often and easily. This is caused by a low blood platelet count called thrombocytopenia
  • Tiny red spots appear right under the skin, and this is caused by bleeding underneath, also called petechiae
  • Experiencing fatigue
  • Frequent infections due to low white blood cells, also called leukopenia

Treatment options
There is no cure for this disease, but some management options may help slow the progression of the disease, such as:

Blood transfusions
One approach to alleviate the symptoms of this illness is by utilizing healthy blood cells obtained from a donor to replace the red blood cells and platelets in affected individuals.

Bone marrow transplant
Apart from transfusion, another widely used method is the transplant method, also called the stem cell transplant method. Although this method has the highest potential for curing the disease, it involves various complexities and risks. It is advised that those who are physically fit to undergo the complete procedure should opt for this treatment method. The process includes multiple sessions of chemotherapy that aid in removing the damaged blood cells from the bone marrow, following which healthy donated cells are transplanted, also referred to as the allogeneic transplant. Nonetheless, discussing the possible complications and side effects with a healthcare professional is important for the management and treatment methods.