What Is MDS Leukemia?


Quick Answer

MDS leukemia is a myelodysplastic syndrome where blood cells within bone marrow do not mature, according to the National Cancer Institute. The immature blood cells die in the blood or bone marrow and leave less room for healthy platelets and red and white blood cells to form.

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Full Answer

Signs and symptoms of MDS leukemia or a myelodysplastic syndrome may include weakness, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, shortness of breath, and pinpoint spots under the skin as a result of bleeding, according to the National Cancer Institute. To diagnose MDS leukemia, a doctor tests the blood and bone marrow, completes a physical exam and gathers medical history. In addition, physicians typically order a complete blood count to determine the number and type of white blood cells, the amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells, and the number of platelets and red blood cells in the body.

Although the cause of MDS leukemia or myelodysplastic syndromes is unknown, a potential risk factor may include past cancer treatment with radiation therapy or chemotherapy, explains the National Cancer Institute. In addition, individuals exposed to tobacco smoke, fertilizers, pesticides, solvents and dangerous chemicals are also at risk. Exposure to heavy metals is a risk factor, too.

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