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Is Myelodysplastic Syndrome Cancer Painful?

Myelodysplastic syndrome is painful in the later stages. The pain is caused due to respiratory distress and immunological imbalance. The pain can be controlled through proper administration of medications.

Is Myelodysplastic Syndrome Cancer Painful?

Is Myelodysplastic Syndrome Cancer Painful?

Myelodysplastic syndrome is a condition characterized by the presence of immature blood cells. In the initial stage of the disease, there are no symptoms. The symptoms start appearing as the disease progresses into a more severe form. The patient experiences pain in different parts of the body due to this disease. The major symptoms occur when the blood cells are at a critically low level and the functions of those cells are not effectively performed. When the RBC is low, it leads to poor oxygen supply into the tissues leading to fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath.

The white blood cells are associated with the immune system of the body and a reduced number of WBC may make the person prone to infection. Similarly, the platelets are involved in the blood coagulation process and the reduced number of platelets increases the risk of bleeding and the patient may have easy bruising; Pain in the patient increases as the disease progresses. In some cases, the condition becomes comorbid with other conditions leading to pain in other unrelated areas. Following are the types of pain occurring in the patient suffering from Myelodysplastic syndrome:

Chest Pain– Chest pain is the most common pain experienced by patients suffering from Myelodysplastic syndrome. The pain in the chest is due to over-stress on the respiratory muscles. In this condition, the RBC does not get matured and their function of carrying the oxygen is significantly disrupted. This causes a lack of oxygen in the tissue. In response to this, the respiratory muscles have to work hard to supply a sufficient quantity of oxygen to different parts, leading to pain in the chest muscles. The condition becomes more severe as the disease progresses.

Bone/Joint Pain– Pain in the bones is another common symptom of Myelodysplastic syndrome. The pain in the bones and joints occurs at a later stage. Myelodysplastic syndrome is a blood disorder and involves blood cells. Blood cells are formed in the bone marrow from the stem cells and the cells differentiate to form RBC, WBC, and platelets. The presence of immature cells in the bone marrow is too high causing pain in the bones and joints.(1)

Abdominal Pain– Abdominal pain is also found in many patients suffering from this condition. The condition that causes abdominal pain and is found in Myelodysplastic syndrome is Intestinal Behçet’s disease-like symptoms. With severe pain in the abdominal region, it is very difficult to manage Myelodysplastic syndrome complexed with Intestinal Behcet’s disease-like symptoms.(2)

Body Ache- Oxygen is an essential ingredient in the energy synthesizing process. Due to the reduction in a number of RBC and hemoglobin, the concentration of oxygen reduces in all parts of the body. This result in low production of energy and the person feel fatigued. The situation may also lead to pain in muscles.

Vascular Inflammation- The Myelodysplastic syndrome results in the systemic as well as subcutaneous vasculitis i.e. the inflammation and pain in the vessels. The myelodysplastic syndrome has acute systemic vasculitis and sometimes the aorta also gets affected. The condition occurs due to altered production of RBC and the imbalance in the immune system

Neuritis– 10% of the patients suffering from Myelodysplastic syndrome have one or the other type of neuropathy. Neuropathy is the disease caused in the nervous system leading to pain and inflammation. Rarely in some patients, is optic neuritis found.(3)


Various types of pain, of different etiological origin, may be experienced by the patient suffering from Myelodysplastic syndrome. Reduced number of RBC may lead to pain in respiratory muscles while overcrowding of immature cells in the bone marrow leads to bone pain. In some patients abdominal and neurological pain is present.


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Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 23, 2021

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