Those who are already cancer patients are susceptible to developing Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) for an extended period after taking chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy. MDS is a group of bone marrow disorders caused when not enough healthy blood cells are produced. These specific cases that are developed from cancer treatment are labeled as Primary MDS. Secondary MDS is referred to when a patient develops MDS without receiving prior cancer treatment. Although all cases of MDS can develop into Leukemia, over time, Secondary MDS is known to develop the most rapidly of all subtypes.
Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) is identified and diagnosed by carrying out blood tests and bone marrow tests. During the bone marrow test, the doctor passes a needle through your skin and into your bone, often the pelvic bone, drawing out a sample of your bone marrow into a syringe. This will be sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope. In the blood test, a complete blood count (CBC) is performed to show the number of normal blood cells and the number of irregular and immature cells you have. Each year, the variety of patients identified with MDS every year is growing, which will help doctors learn more about the causes and improve the treatment of MDS.
Certain genes that help cells grow, divide, and stay alive are called oncogenes. Some instances of Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) are linked to identified risk factors, but most often, the trigger is unknown. Your prognosis depends on many elements including those not associated to MDS, corresponding to your general health and age. Most patients with MDS are elderly and above the age of 65. Treatment selections are based on the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS-R).
How is Myelodysplastic Syndrome Treated?
A stem cell transplant is considered the only method to cure MDS. Unfortunately, this treatment option is not suitable for all patients. First, the patient will receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy in order to break down their own bone marrow before receiving stem cells from a donor. A chemotherapy regimen, or schedule, normally consists of a specific number of cycles given over a set time period.
The main challenges with a stem cell transplant is the patients typically must be in good health other than their MDS and finding a donor that is suitable for them. Relatives are the ideal candidates, but close relatives like brothers and sisters will have the highest likelihood of matching the patient’s stem cells in order to perform the transplant. The transplant itself can take as little as a few days or up to a few weeks for the stem cells to begin making healthy new blood cells. Patients are susceptible to infection so antibiotics can be administered by the doctor after the transplant.
Some clinical trials are looking at combining cancer medicine and drugs for MDS patients. With an estimated 10,000 cases per year in the United States, MDS is rare. However, there are currently over 250 clinical trials that are active and recruiting patients in the United States. Many of the trials are aimed at managing MDS and its side effects. Some of the drugs that are currently being studied in clinical trials for MDS patients include:
You can help cut back your threat of MDS and other cancers by making health-conscious decisions like maintaining a healthy diet, staying active and not smoking. It’s also important to observe the recommended screening guidelines, which might help detect MDS or other cancers early.