Every patient’s situation should be evaluated individually by a hematologist-oncologist who specializes in treating MDS and who will discuss the disease subtype, prognostic factors and treatment options with the patient. It is also important to seek treatment at a center that has experience in treating MDS.
Types of MDS Treatment
Doctors use several types of approaches and treatment combinations for MDS:
- Supportive care
- Blood transfusions
- Iron chelation therapy
- Blood cell growth factors
- Infection management
- Drug therapy
- Allogeneic stem cell transplantation
- Your doctor may suggest that you participate in a clinical trial. Clinical trials can involve therapy with new drugs and new drug combinations or new approaches to stem cell transplantation.
Finding the Best Treatment Approach
The treatment your doctor recommends is based on several factors, including:
- Whether you're in the low-risk or high-risk category
- Your MDS subtype
- Your overall health
- Other health conditions you may have, called comorbidities, such as heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease or diabetes
Because lower-risk MDS is more likely to progress slowly, low-intensity treatments are generally used first. The goals for low-risk MDS patients are to
- Improve blood counts
- Lessen the need for blood transfusions
- Lower the risk of infection
- Improve the quality of life
High-risk MDS tends to grow quickly and progress to AML within a shorter time. For this reason, more intensive treatments are generally used. The goals for high-risk MDS patients are to
- Slow or stop MDS progression to AML
- Lengthen survival
You may find it helpful to bring a loved one with you to your doctor's visits for support and to take notes and ask follow-up questions. It's a good idea to prepare questions you'd like to ask when you visit your doctor. You can also record your conversations with your doctor and listen more closely when you get home.
To download lists of suggested questions to ask your healthcare providers, click here.
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's free booklets
- Click here to download lists of suggested questions to ask your healthcare providers.