Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)

Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) is a group of slow growing blood cancers, including chronic myelogenous leukemia, in which large numbers of abnormal red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets grow and spread in the bone marrow and the peripheral blood.


Staging for Myelodysplastic Syndromes:


There is no staging system for myelodysplastic syndromes.


Treatment of Myelodysplastic Syndromes:


Treatment is based on whether the disease developed after the patient was exposed to factors that cause myelodysplastic syndrome or whether the disease was previously treated. Myelodysplastic syndromes are grouped for treatment as follows:

  • De novo myelodysplastic syndromes which develop without any known cause.
  • Secondary myelodysplastic syndromes which develop after the patient was treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy for other diseases or after being exposed to radiation or certain chemicals that are linked to the development of myelodysplastic syndromes. Secondary myelodysplastic syndromes may be harder to treat than de novo myelodysplastic syndromes.
  • Previously treated myelodysplastic syndromes which have been treated but has not gotten better.

Treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes aims to relieve symptoms, slow progression, and improve quality of life. Different types of treatments are available for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes. Treatment options for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes range from supportive care that helps relieve symptoms to aggressive treatment that may slow or prevent progression of the disease. Issues caused by low blood cell counts, such as fatigue and infections, may be treated with transfusions of blood products or the use of growth factors.

Chemotherapy may be used to delay progression of the disease. Other drug therapy may be used to lessen the need for transfusions. Certain patients may benefit from aggressive treatment with chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant using stem cells from a donor.

Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with a myelodysplastic syndrome. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.


Search for clinical trials in Georgia.


Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's PDQ Database: (Accessed July 2016)