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Myelodysplastic Syndromes: Treatments and Services

Myelodysplastic syndromes are treated based on the development of the disease. The main role of treatment is to relieve symptoms, slow progression of the disease, and improve quality of life. Some cases of MDS are treated to cure the disease. The following treatment methods are used for myelodysplastic syndromes:

Transfusion Therapy
Transfusion therapy involves the transfusion of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These healthy blood cells from other individuals replace blood cells damaged or destroyed by the disease. This type of therapy is not used to cure the disease.

Growth Factor Therapy
Growth factor therapy involves the use of growth factors to stimulate the development of new red and white blood cells. Erythropoietin is a commonly used substance made by the kidneys that stimulates the development of red blood cells. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is used to stimulate the growth of white blood cells. These substances may be used in combination. This type of therapy is not used to cure the disease.

Drug Therapy
Drug therapy is the use of certain drugs to lessen the need for transfusion, treat side effects of frequent transfusion, or fight off infections.

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. When used in the treatment of MDS, chemotherapy drugs can slow the progression of the disease and lessen the need for transfusions. In most cases chemotherapy alone will not cure the disease.

Chemotherapy/Radiation and Stem Cell Transplant
Chemotherapy and stem cell transplant may be used to cure myelodysplastic syndromes. High dose chemotherapy and radiation are given prior to transplant to destroy the existing diseased bone marrow. After a regimen of chemotherapy and/or radiation, new stem cells are transplanted. These cells grow into new bone marrow and begin working to restore the body's blood cells.