3 things to know about myelodysplastic syndromes

Caused due to malformed blood cells or malfunctioning blood cells, myelodysplastic syndrome is a group of disorders. These disorders occur due to a deficiency in the bone marrow. It is a form of cancer for which there is no permanent cure. Treatments are geared towards alleviating the symptoms or preventing the various complications that may arise over time. In some cases, treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes involves bone marrow transplant or chemotherapy.

Read on to know more the types, symptoms, causes, and risk factors of these disorders.

Types of myelodysplastic syndromes

  • Myelodysplastic syndrome with excess blasts: There are two types: type 1 and type 2. This syndrome occurs when there is a very low count of white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets. Also, any of these cells will appear abnormal under the microscope. Also, the presence of blood cells that have not matured completely can be found in the bone marrow and blood.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome with multilineage dysplasia: In this type of myelodysplastic syndrome, two to three types of blood cells among platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells are found to be abnormal.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome with unilineage dysplasia: In this type of myelodysplastic syndrome, either platelets, red blood cells, or white blood cells are found to be low and appear abnormal when observed under the microscope.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome with ring sideroblasts: This type of myelodysplastic syndrome has two subtypes. In this, there is a low count of one or more blood cell types. Also, there is a ring of excess iron known as ring sideroblasts around the existing red blood cells present in the bone marrow.
  • Unclassified myelodysplastic syndrome: This is an uncommon type of myelodysplastic syndrome. There is a low count of either red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. Also, white blood cells or platelets will appear to be abnormal when observed under a microscope.

Causes of myelodysplastic syndrome
Under normal and healthy circumstances, the bone marrow will make new blood cells that will mature over a period. However, there are certain factors that can interfere with the process of cell maturation and lead to myelodysplastic syndrome. In such cases, the blood cells tend to die after they enter the bloodstream or in the bone marrow itself. Over time, the number of defective immature cells becomes more than healthy cells. This leads to fatigue, anemia, leukopenia infections, and thrombocytopenia.

The cause of most types of myelodysplastic syndrome is not known. In some cases, the causes can include excessive and prolonged exposure to radiation, chemotherapy, pesticides, benzene, tobacco, lead, and other toxic substances.

Symptoms of myelodysplastic syndrome
There are barely any signs and symptoms of myelodysplastic syndrome in the early stages. Over time, certain symptoms start showing. These include fatigue caused by anemia, shortness of breath, unusual paleness, anemia, unusual bruising, easy bleeding, pinpoint-sized red spots beneath the skin, and frequent occurrence of infections. These symptoms occur due to low blood platelets and white blood cells count.

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