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Treatment and side effects for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)

We're here for you if you want to talk

0808 2080 888

[email protected]

Treatment planning for MDS

Your treatment will be planned by a group of experts using national guidelines. The type of MDS you have will affect which treatments may be best for you.

In this section we talk about the specific treatments used for MDS. You might also want to read our general information about how blood cancer treatment is planned and managing your treatment. We also have some important information on staying safe if you’ve got blood cancer, covering things like risk of infection and vaccinations.

Your treatment will be planned by a group of specialist doctors and nurses called a multi-disciplinary team (MDT). They will have regular meetings to discuss your care.

The treatments they recommended will depend on the type of MDS you have, your own wishes, your general fitness, and your IPSS-R score.

MDS can sometimes be cured with a stem cell transplant, or very rarely with intensive chemotherapy. However, usually MDS cannot be cured, but it can be controlled and often improved with treatment.

The first question that your doctor will ask themselves is whether there is a treatment option that has a chance of curing the MDS. If a stem cell transplant is an option for you, a search for donors can be started.

Treatment of MDS may include one or more of the following:

  • Watch and wait - Not all patients need active treatment, as some do not have any symptoms. If you are not starting treatment, you will have regular check-ups which is often referred to as ‘watch and wait’ or ‘active monitoring’.
  • Supportive care – This aims to control the symptoms of MDS.
  • Non-intensive treatment – This tries to slow down the progression of MDS and improve your blood counts.
  • Intensive chemotherapy – This involves giving high doses of chemotherapy in hospital.
  • Stem cell transplant – This gives your body new stem cells so it can grow new healthy blood cells in the bone marrow.

Before your treatment starts, your doctor or nurse will explain the benefits and side effects of the chosen treatment so that you can give your consent. It is likely that you will need to sign a consent form to agree to the treatment. If you are unsure about anything, do ask, as MDS can be a complicated disease to understand.

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