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Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

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 people older than 70 years.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Reverse isolation

is a safety measure used to protect you from outside germs. You may have a weak immune system or trouble fighting infection. With reverse isolation, you are given a private room. Everyone should wash their hands when entering and leaving your room. Healthcare providers and visitors wear gloves, a mask, and a gown when they enter your room.


  • Antibiotics may help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Steroids may be used to stop your immune system from attacking your body's own cells, such as RBCs, WBCs, and platelets.
  • Immunosuppressives help stop your immune system from attacking your body's own cells. They may also prevent death of normal RBCs, WBCs, and platelets.
  • Chemotherapy , often called chemo, is used to kill faulty stem cells. Chemo may also be used to prevent normal stem cells from becoming defective cells.
  • Bone stimulating hormone stimulates bone marrow cells to make more RBCs.


  • Blood tests can show the number of RBCs, WBCs, and platelets. They may also show if your blood cells are working correctly.
  • A bone marrow biopsy is a procedure to take a small amount of bone marrow from the bone in your hip. It will help your healthcare provider see how many and what kind of blood forming cells are in your bone marrow.


  • A blood transfusion may be given to increase RBCs or other blood cells.
  • A blood or bone marrow stem cell transplant is a procedure to put bone marrow or stem cells in your blood through an IV. The stem cells should go to your bone marrow and begin to make new, healthy blood cells.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.


  • A stem cell transplant may increase your risk for bleeding or for an infection. You may continue to have symptoms, even after treatment. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening.
  • Left untreated, your RBCs, WBCs, and platelets may continue to decrease. This may increase your risk for anemia (low RBCs), infections, fevers, or bleeding problems. It may also increase your risk for leukemia (cancer of blood cells). These conditions may become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.