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Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)
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Diseases and Conditions

Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Our MDS center headed by Dr Amit Verma is recognized as a national "center of excellence" by the MDS Foundation and offers a variety of treatments and clinical trials for patients with Myelodysplastic syndromes. Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) are diseases of the blood and bone marrow, characterized by low blood counts. Normally, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells that develop into mature blood cells over time. The stem cells develop into one of three types of mature blood cells:

  • Red blood cells that carry oxygen and other materials to all tissues of the body.
  • White blood cells that fight infection and disease.
  • Platelets that help prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.

With MDS, the blood stem cells do not mature into healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. In addition, the cells in the blood and bone marrow (also called”myelo”) usually look abnormal (or “dysplastic”), hence the name “Myelodysplastic” Syndromes.

Each year more than 15,000 new cases of MDS are diagnosed in the United States. Patients tend to be elderly at the time of diagnosis, although people of any age can develop the disease. MDS is classified as either primary (also called de novo)—disease that has no known cause —or secondary (also called treatment-related) MDS. Treatment-related MDS is caused by previous treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which is given for a previously diagnosed cancer.

Previously, MDS was commonly referred to as a preleukemic condition (and it is still sometimes called pre-leukemia) because some people with MDS develop acute leukemia as a complication of the disease. However, most patients with MDS will never develop acute leukemia.

In a third of MDS cases, over time, very immature bone marrow cells called blasts may increase in number and fill the bone marrow, displacing the normal red and white blood cells and platelets that are produced there. This overgrowth of blasts, if severe enough, is called acute leukemia.