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Diagnosis and Prognosis of Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

  • Michael Jubinville, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis and Prognosis of Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

In some people, a problem is found during a routine blood test. Others may see their doctor when symptoms appear. The most common are feeling tired, bleeding problems, trouble breathing, or repeated infections. The doctor may think there is a blood disorder based on a physical exam, symptoms, and health past. Tests will help find a cause.

Testing for MDS

If your doctor thinks you have a blood disorder, blood tests will help find a cause. These may include:

  • Complete blood count—Measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Low numbers of healthy blood cells or high numbers of immature cells (called blasts) in the bone marrow may be found.
  • Blood smear—A drop of blood is looked at in a lab. It can show the number of each type of blood cell and the number of blasts and mature cells. The smear may find certain markers caused by problems with the genes.
  • Tests to check the levels of folate, vitamin B12, iron, or thyroid-stimulating hormone to rule out other diseases.
  • Tests to look for proteins or other markers. This can help if is hard to pinpoint a diagnosis.


  • General information about myelodysplastic syndromes. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloproliferative/patient/myelodysplastic-treatment-pdq#_1.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114054/Myelodysplastic-syndrome-MDS.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Merck Manual Professional Version website Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/leukemias/myelodysplastic-syndrome-mds.
  • Tests for myelodysplastic syndromes. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.