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Treatments for Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Treatments for Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

Treatment depends on the type and outlook of the MDS. It also depends on the person's age, health, and preferences. The goal of MDS treatment is to kill cancer cells. It is also to slow the pace of the disease. A stem cell transplant (SCT) is the only way to cure MDS. But it may not work for all people. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used to ease symptoms. They are also used to clear the body of cancer cells before an SCT.

Comfort measures are used in later stages of MDS. They are to ease symptoms and make the quality of life better. Some treatments may keep one type of MDS from becoming acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Blood transfusions and medicines to boost blood cell counts are common methods.

MDS is treated with:

Treatments for many cancers are always changing. Some have yet to be found. As a result, clinical trials exist around the world. Many people talk to their doctor about enrolling in a clinical trial. More information is found at the US National Institutes of Health website.


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  • Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Merck Manual Professional Version website Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/leukemias/myelodysplastic-syndrome-mds. Accessed April 19, 2022.
  • Shallis RM, Zeidan AM. Management of the older patient with myelodysplastic syndrome. Drugs Aging. 2021;38(9):751-767.
  • Treating myelodysplastic syndromes. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome/treating.html. Accessed April 19, 2022.
  • Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloproliferative/patient/myelodysplastic-treatment-pdq#section/_49. Accessed April 19, 2022.


  • 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.