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What is MDS disease?

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Quick Answer

MDS disease, better known as myelodysplastic syndrome, is a condition that impairs the bone marrow and its blood cells, according to WebMD. Several disorders are classified as types of MDS.

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When cells in the bone marrow are damaged, it affects the formation of new blood cells, which often turns anomalous. The lifespan of the abnormal blood cells is much shorter than normal red blood cells, leading to an insufficient amount of normal cells and a low blood count, according to the American Cancer Society. There is also a chance that MDS changes into a fast growing cancer known as acute myeloid leukemia, which happens in about one out of three people with MDS.

The risk factors of myelodysplastic syndrome are associated with certain chemotherapy drugs such as Leukeran, Cytoxan, Adriamycin, Etopophos, Ifex, Mustargen, Alkeran, Matulane and Vumon, according to WebMD. Inherited conditions such as Fanconi anemia, Shwachman-Diamond syndrome and severe congenital neutropenia also increase the risk of MDS. Other risk factors include prolonged exposure to certain industrial chemicals and smoking.

Various factors allow doctors to determine the type of myelodysplastic syndrome present in a patient. These factors include the types of blood cells affected, the number of abnormal blood cells and the normalcy of the bone marrow’s genetic substance, according to WebMD. If the syndrome developed after previous cancer treatment is also a factor.

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