Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a rare group of blood disorders that occur as a result of improper development of blood cells within the bone marrow.
About 10,000 to 15,000 people are diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes in the United States each year. Although MDS can affect people of any age, more than 80% of cases are in people over age 60. MDS is more common in men than in women.
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General symptoms associated with MDS include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, bruising, bleeding, frequent infections, and headaches. In some cases, MDS may progress to life-threatening failure of the bone marrow or develop into an acute leukemia. The exact cause of MDS is unknown. There are no certain environmental risk factors.
Causes of MDS
In MDS, the bone marrow does not make enough normal blood cells for the body. One, two or all three types of blood cells — red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets — may be affected. The marrow may also make immature cells called blasts. Blasts normally develop into red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. In MDS, the blasts are abnormal and do not develop or function normally.