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Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)

Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells.

Myelodysplastic syndromes are diseases of the blood and bone marrow. Normally, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells (immature cells) that develop into mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell. The lymphoid stem cell develops into a white blood cell. The myeloid stem cell develops into one of three types of mature blood cells:

  • Red blood cells that carry oxygen and other materials to all tissues of the body.
  • White blood cells that fight infection and disease.
  • Platelets that help prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.

In myelodysplastic syndromes, the blood stem cells do not mature into healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. The immature blood cells, called blasts, do not function normally and either die in the bone marrow or soon after they enter the blood. This leaves less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets to develop in the bone marrow. When there are fewer blood cells, infection, anemia, or easy bleeding may occur.

Myelodysplastic syndromes have too few of one or more types of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow or blood. Myelodysplastic syndromes include the following diseases:

  • Refractory anemia.
  • Refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts.
  • Refractory anemia with excess blasts.
  • Refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation.
  • Refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome associated with an isolated del(5q) chromosome abnormality.
  • Unclassifiable myelodysplastic syndrome.

Learn more about Myelodysplastic syndromes, symptoms, tests and treatments at the National Cancer Institute Web site. Also visit the MDS Foundation and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society to learn more.

UF Health MDS Clinic

The UF Health MDS Clinic was recently designated as a Center of Excellence in research, diagnosis, and treatment of MDS by the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation. Learn more about services, hours and maps on the MDS clinic page.