With current treatments, patients with lower-risk types of some MDS can live for 5 years or even longer. Patients with higher-risk MDS that becomes acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are likely to have a shorter life span. About 30 out of 100 MDS patients will develop AML.
Supportive care is important regardless of whether a person is getting other treatments for MDS . If other treatment is needed, a chemotherapy drug such as azacitidine (Vidaza) or decitabine (Dacogen) is often the first choice, especially for patients with lower-risk forms of MDS .
Death from MDS is often caused by bleeding and/or infection from low blood cell counts or after the disease becomes acute myeloid leukemia (AML). About a third of patients with MDS develop AML. It is important to remember that statistics on MDS are an estimate.
MDS is a form of bone marrow cancer, although its progression into leukaemia does not always occur. The failure of the bone marrow to produce mature healthy cells is a gradual process, and therefore MDS is not necessarily a terminal disease . In some patients, however, MDS can progress to AML, Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
Symptoms of MDS For most people, symptoms are mild at first and slowly get worse . They can include: weakness, tiredness and occasional breathlessness (because of the low number of red blood cells) frequent infections (because of the low number of white blood cells)
Both azacitidine and decitabine are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat all types of MDS. However, these drugs are used most often for patients with higher IPSS-R scores. Both can be given in the doctor’s office or clinic.
WHO Classification System for MDS Subtypes MDS with single-lineage dysplasia ( MDS -SLD) one or two cytopenias in the blood. MDS with multilineage dysplasia ( MDS -MLD) one to three cytopenias in the blood. MDS with ring sideroblasts ( MDS -RS) MDS with isolated del(5q) MDS with excess blasts ( MDS -EB)
Some outside exposures can lead to MDS by damaging the DNA inside bone marrow cells. For example, tobacco smoke contains chemicals that can damage genes. Exposure to radiation or certain chemicals such as benzene or some chemotherapy drugs can also cause mutations that lead to MDS .
Chemotherapy is not used to treat or cure MDS . However, high-dose chemotherapy may be used before a stem cell transplant to rid the body of cancer cells. It may also be used for MDS that has become acute myeloid leukemia or to ease symptoms caused by the disease.
Takeaway. MDS is a severe , chronic syndrome from which very few people successfully recover. It often progresses to AML, which is a form of leukemia. Depending on which scoring system a doctor uses, life expectancy can change, according to the progression of MDS.
Leukemia or myelodysplastic syndromes ( MDS ) can cause bone or joint pain , usually because your bone marrow has become overcrowded with cancer cells. At times, these cells may form a mass near the spinal cord’s nerves or in the joints.
MDS does not spread to organs like other cancers, but the abnormal blood cell counts can affect certain organs . MDS progresses to AML in one-third of cases, and certain types are more likely to progress than others .
The newer WPSS classification system takes into account chromosomal abnormalities like IPSS, but includes two more factors—the WHO’s own classification of MDS subtypes and whether the patient is dependent on red cell transfusions. In the WPSS, a score of three or above is considered higher – risk .
In about 1 in 3 patients, MDS can progress to a rapidly growing cancer of bone marrow cells called acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In the past, MDS was sometimes referred to as pre- leukemia or smoldering leukemia .
MDS cannot be cured with chemotherapy. An allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT) is the only potential cure for patients with MDS .