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Can Myelodysplastic Syndrome Be Reversed?

The myelodysplastic syndrome refers to a group of disorders that leads to abnormal formation of immature blood cells in place of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow. These cells are abnormally developed that cannot perform the basic function of the blood cells. It inversely decreases the number of healthy blood cells. It is caused by mutations in the genes of blood cells that can happen in normal cell divisions, genetic diseases such as Down syndrome, Fanconi syndrome, etc. and if exposed to certain environmental toxins such as benzene, smoke, etc. It usually affects people at their old age above 60 years.

Can Myelodysplastic Syndrome Be Reversed?

A definite cure for myelodysplastic syndrome is not discovered yet. But, there are many treatment options available that can manage the symptoms of the disease. The patients who are at low risk are monitored regularly without any specific treatment. In some cases, patients are given blood transfusions to reduce the symptoms, any possibility of infection and improve the quality of life. Red blood cells are transfused to reduce fatigue and shortness of breath that relieves anemia. Platelets are transfused in cases where there is intense bleeding in patients of myelodysplastic syndrome. Some patients may need more aggressive treatment that includes radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Some patients are given these therapies followed by bone marrow transplantation.

There is only one cure of myelodysplastic syndrome i.e. bone marrow transplantation or stem cell transplantation. It is the process by which myelodysplastic syndrome can be reversed. Bone marrow transplantation aims at the replacement of diseased bone marrow with a healthy bone marrow or stem cells. In this procedure, healthy bone marrow or stem cells are taken from the vein of the arm of the donor. The donor should be a close relative of the patient. Patient’s own bone marrow cannot be used as it has immature stem cells of abnormal nature. Stem cells are extracted from the donor are transferred to blood through a machine and the rest blood is returned back to the donor.(1)

The patient then receives chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy immature blood cells or cancer cells in the blood prior to stem cells transplantation. It is also done to make room for new stem cells during transplantation.

Stem cells are then injected into the bloodstream through IV. It is done through a catheter positioned in the blood vessel in the chest. The injected stem cells reach bone marrow and start to produce new healthy blood cells. The side effect of this procedure is that the patient may have symptoms such as fever, pain, hives, chest pain, etc.
A reduced-intensity transplant is recommended for myelodysplastic syndrome as it provides low doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. These doses are kept low so that all the bone marrow cells are not destroyed. The main aim of keeping their doses low is to allow the donor cells to grow efficiently in the bone marrow.

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a group of blood disorders that develop due to faulty bone marrow. The faulty bone marrow produces defective blood cells that are immature and cannot function properly. In this syndrome, the body is unable to eradicate all the abnormal cells as it does in a healthy state. It results in a scarcity of healthy blood cells that cause health problems such as anemia, bleeding disorders, etc.(1)

Myelodysplastic syndrome usually affects people in their old age above 60 years. It rarely affects children. It usually develops after 1 to 15 years of chemotherapy or radiation therapy has done for acute lymphocytic leukemia. In the past, this disorder was called preleukemia or smoldering leukemia. Nowadays, the physician considers this disorder as a form of cancer.


Myelodysplastic syndrome is marked by dysplasia or error in the bone marrow due to which it produces immature blood cells in place of healthy blood cells. Bone marrow transplantation or stem cell transplantation is the only treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome through which the disease can be reversed.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 29, 2021

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