What Is Myelodysplasia?

Myelodysplasia or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a less common type of blood cancer. It is a disorder that is caused by impaired blood cells—or not enough production of them—in the bone marrow. When blood cells do not mature, they fail to become healthy and, consequently, do not perform as they should to keep the body healthy.

Thanks to ongoing research and innovation in diagnosis and treatment, myelodysplasia’s survival rate has improved over the years. The key is an early and accurate diagnosis followed by an appropriate treatment plan.

Learn more about myelodysplasia symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Why Choose Us for Myelodysplasia Care

State-of-the-Art Cancer Treatment

RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, meets the highest standards in cancer research, treatment, prevention and education in the nation. We offer the most advanced treatment options, including chemotherapy, growth factors, blood transfusions, stem cell transplants and access to clinical trials.

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New Jersey’s Largest Network of Cancer Specialists

We are New Jersey’s largest network of cancer specialists, including nationally and internationally recognized hematologists/oncologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice nurses and oncology support professionals with advanced credentials in cancer with expertise in blood cancers.

Oncology Nurse Navigators Guide You Through Your AML Journey

Nurse navigators help secure appointments, coordinate follow-up visits related to treatments and procedures, and guide you through aspects of survivorship.

To contact one of New Jersey’s best blood cancer specialists call
844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

Myelodysplasia Symptoms

Myelodysplasia symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Paleness caused by low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Easy or unusual bruising or bleeding caused by low blood platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
  • Tiny red spots caused by bleeding (petechiae)
  • Frequently occurring infections caused by a low white blood cell count (leukopenia)

Patients are encouraged to seek medical care at the first sign of myelodysplasia symptoms, and especially if they persist. An early diagnosis can increase the chances of treatment success.

Myelodysplasia Diagnosis

Because myelodysplasia causes low blood cell counts, it can be found through routine blood tests. Patients diagnosed this way generally have not yet been experiencing any symptoms.

If you have myelodysplasia symptoms, your doctor will conduct a thorough medical history, gathering important information regarding how long you have had symptoms, what types of symptoms you have had, and if you have been exposed to any risk factors.

The doctor may also order a bone marrow test. During the procedure, a sample of bone marrow is removed from the hip and sent to the laboratory where it is examined for cancer cells.

Facts About Myelodysplasia

  • When myelodysplasia is caught early and treated effectively, outcomes can be very positive.
  • About 30 percent of people with myelodysplasia will progress into acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).
  • According to the American Cancer Society, myelodysplasia is uncommon in people under 50 and most commonly diagnosed in those over 70.

Myelodysplasia Treatment

Our team of specialists use the latest myelodysplasia treatment options, including:

  • Supportive therapy. Supportive therapy may include red blood cells transfusions to increase hemoglobin and iron levels and improve the amount of oxygen in the blood.
  • Growth factors. These hormone-like substances help trigger blood cell growth in the bone marrow.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells and lead to remission.
  • Stem cell transplants. This treatment can cure myelodysplasia. Stem cell transplants involve the use of high-dose chemotherapy and/or total body irradiation to kill defunct cells and replace them with healthy blood-forming stem cells.

The right treatment for you will depend on a variety of factors. Once diagnosed, you will consult with your provider and care team to determine the best myelodysplasia treatment options.

Questions? Contact Us

Your team at RWJBarnabas Health is here to address any questions or concerns that you might have. We will help you understand how you will feel and function after treatment, and if you will have to change any of your normal activities.

Together, you and your RWJBarnabas Health care team will craft a treatment plan that is right for you.

To contact one of New Jersey’s best blood cancer specialists call
844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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