(MDS; Myelodysplasia; Preleukemia; Smoldering Leukemia; Subacute Leukemia)
How to Say It: My-e-lo-dys-plas-tic syn-dromes
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a rare group of bone marrow diseases. Bone marrow is tissue found in the bones. It creates blood cells. In MDS, the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells. It is a form of blood cancer.
Some types of MDS are more serious than others. It can lead to acute myeloid leukemia.
The cause of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is unknown.
MDS is more common in older adults and men. Other things that may raise the risk are:
There may be no symptoms in the early stages of MDS. When symptoms occur, they may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
Treatment for MDS depends on the type and stage of the disease and the person's age and health. Options may include:
There are no guidelines to reduce the risk of MDS.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Aplastic Anemia & Myelodysplasia Association of Canada
Neutropenia Support Association
Frequently asked questions about MDS. The Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation website. Available at: https://www.mds-foundation.org/pdf/CEL411%20Factsht%20v8.pdf. Accessed March 24, 2021.
General information about myelodysplastic syndromes. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloproliferative/patient/myelodysplastic-treatment-pdq. Accessed March 24, 2021.
Myelodysplastic syndrome. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Accessed March 24, 2021.
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/myelodysplastic-syndrome-mds . Accessed March 24, 2021.
Myelodysplastic syndromes. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome.html. Accessed March 24, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 3/24/2021
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