This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of blood disorders characterized by abnormal development of blood cells within the bone marrow. People with MDS have abnormally low blood cell levels (low blood counts). Signs and symptoms may include dizziness, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, bruising and bleeding, frequent infections, and headaches. In some people with MDS, the condition progresses to bone marrow failure or develops into acute leukemia.
MDS develops when a cell with a mutation replicates, and the resulting copies begin to predominate in the bone marrow and suppress healthy stem cells. The mutation may result from a genetic predisposition, or from injury to the DNA caused by an exposure such as chemotherapy or radiation. In many people with MDS there is no obvious exposure or cause.
Standard treatments for people with MDS and decreased blood counts are constantly changing. The main components of care include transfusions of the types of cells that are deficient and treatment of infections. A stem cell transplant may cure the disease, but it is only indicated in selected cases.
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