About this disease

What it is about

Myelodysplastic syndromes are among the most common malignant blood disorders in adults. They are triggered by genetic changes (mutations) in the hematopoietic cells in the bone marrow, which are acquired in the course of life by chance, due to certain genetic predispositions or as a result of external influences. Risk factors include ionizing radiation or certain chemical substances. Although it is still not possible to cure MDS with drugs, the treatment options for MDS have been steadily improved in recent years.


The individual forms of MDS differ significantly with regard to their course, treatment options and the risk of developing into a more aggressive disease, such as acute leukemia. The less aggressive forms sometimes manifest themselves for years only by a slight anemia. Other forms are more similar to acute leukemia, which usually causes pronounced symptoms within a few weeks.

Symptoms and consequences

In myelodysplastic syndrome, the bone marrow produces dysfunctional blood cells. The normal blood cells are no longer sufficient. If the red blood cells (erythrocytes) are reduced, anemia develops. The consequences are fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath. If there are too few platelets (thrombocytes), a bleeding tendency can develop, i.e. injuries bleed longer or more than normal or spontaneous bleeding can occur. If there are too few white cells (leukocytes), the infection defense is lowered, which leads to unusual or more severe infections.

What we do for you

Examination and diagnosis

In order to diagnose myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a bone marrow puncture is performed. Cells or tissue are removed from the bone marrow using a fine needle and then examined in the laboratory.


The goal of treatment is to improve quality of life, relieve symptoms and slow disease progression. Therapy differs depending on the diagnosed MDS type, health status and age of the affected person. In some cases, the disease does not need to be treated initially, but only monitored. Therapeutic approaches include replacing the missing blood cells with transfusions or stimulating the bone marrow with certain growth factors. In addition, chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation may become necessary in the course of the disease.

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