Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of blood disorders that cause your bone marrow to produce too many blood cells. These cells are often unhealthy (dysplastic) and are destroyed soon after leaving the bone marrow. People with MDS feel very tired, weak and bleed or bruise more easily because they cannot produce enough healthy blood cells.
Although MDS are not cancers themselves, they can sometimes develop into acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). All types of MDS are placed into low and high risk groups based on how likely this is to happen. It also helps your doctor select the most effective treatment option for you.
Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)
Bone marrow and its production of blood cells
Roughly 1 in 20,000 people develop MDS
242 in 2019
More common in people over 70
Blood transfusions and possibly a stem cell transplant in aggressive cases
Not classed as a blood cancer but can develop into acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
Stem cell transplants and MDS
If you have low risk MDS, you may not need treatment straight away but regular blood transfusions and medication can help manage your symptoms. Some people with more severe MDS have chemotherapy and a small number of people may need to have a stem cell transplant. This will be an allograft transplant – when your new stem cells are donated by someone else.
Living with MDS
Many more patient stories are available in our Blogs section.
Information published: 12/02/21
Next review due: 12/02/24