Myelodysplastic syndromes, also called MDS, are a group of rare conditions in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells. Normally, the bone marrow makes red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. These cells carry oxygen in the blood, help the body fight infections and help the blood clot. With MDS, you may feel weak and tired, get infections often and bruise easily, although symptoms tend to vary.
MDS is a form of blood cancer. In some cases, MDS can turn into acute myeloid leukemia (AML), another type of cancer. Some people develop MDS after treatment for cancer or exposure to pesticides or other chemicals. But in most cases, the cause of MDS is not known.
Your doctor will use the results of blood tests to guide your treatment. There are many types of MDS, with different treatment plans for each. If you have enough red blood cells and are feeling all right, you may not need active treatment, but you and your doctor will want to watch your condition carefully. If you start feeling lightheaded and have no energy, you may need a blood transfusion. Your doctor also may give you antibiotics to prevent or treat infection.