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Myelodysplastic Syndromes


Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of conditions that prevent stem cells in your bone marrow from working properly. Stem cells make red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets. MDS cause stem cells to grow and increase in number without control or order. The RBCs, WBCs, and platelets produced are faulty and too few in number. This increases your risk for anemia (low levels of RBC), bleeding, infections, and leukemia. MDS usually affect elderly people.



  • Medicines may help to stop the growth of or kill faulty stem cells. They may also help prevent normal stem cells from becoming defective. Other medicine will increase the number of RBCs, WBCs, or platelets. You may also need medicine to stop your immune system from attacking your stem cells, RBCs, WBCs, or platelets. You may also need medicine to increase the number of RBCs, WBCs, or platelets, or to prevent or treat an infection.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent infections:

  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
  • Stay away from others who have a cold or the flu. Also try to stay away from large groups of people. This will decrease your chance of getting sick. Treatment for MDS can decrease your ability to fight infection.
  • Ask about vaccines. These may help prevent the flu or pneumonia.


Contact sports may increase your risk for bleeding or bruising. Ask your healthcare provider which activities are safe for you.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You are dizzy and feel like fainting.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • You cannot make it to your next appointment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You have blood in your bowel movement.
  • You vomit blood.
  • You have a wound that does not stop bleeding.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Myelodysplastic Syndromes (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex