Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of bone marrow disorders. Bone marrow produces blood cells that develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. In myelodysplastic syndromes, the immature cells made by bone marrow do not mature into the appropriate cells and can either accumulate in the bone marrow or die shortly after they leave the bone marrow. These conditions lead to an inadequate number of mature blood cells. Not having the appropriate number of cells in circulation can lead to anemia, infections, easy bruising, spontaneous bleeding, or even leukemia.
Additionally, because of the myelodysplastic syndrome they have, the cells produced might not work properly. This inadequacy causes patients to suffer from the effects of the disorder and is not necessarily terminal. Some individuals are born with a predisposition for myelodysplastic syndromes, and since they usually affect older individuals, it might take a long time for the effects to manifest. There are several ways to treat myelodysplastic syndromes. Learn about them now.
Blood transfusions can help with myelodysplastic syndromes because it can put the much needed mature blood cells into the circulation of someone who is lacking them. Blood transfusions are used in many different ways by medical professionals. The majority of individuals think if them when someone is having an operation and is losing their blood, so they need more. But, in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes, it can help replace the white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets these individuals lack.
Blood transfusions involve having donor blood given to the patient through a small tube placed in the vein of the recipient. This lets the donor blood mix with the recipient's blood and replenishes blood cells. Furthermore, different kinds of cells can be donated. A recipient might only need red blood cells, and therefore, the blood transfusion may only contain those cells. An individual receiving blood transfusions has to be careful and ensure their body does not suffer from iron overload. If they keep getting transfusions, this is more likely to happen.
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Various medications can help with myelodysplastic syndromes. For instance, erythropoietin can help stimulate the bone marrow into producing red blood cells. If the patient receives cancer treatment, medicines like filgrastim can help the body make more white blood cells. Furthermore, many patients with myelodysplastic syndromes undergo chemotherapy. Since the medicines used are systemic and are given directly into the bloodstream, they are helpful for patients. Myelodysplastic syndromes occur throughout the body, so having medicines that go through the circulatory system helps it fight from many different places. Chemotherapy tries to let normal stem cells grow while killing the abnormal one. Some medicines help a patient improve their blood counts, reduce the chance of getting leukemia, and extend a patient's life, but do not cause as many side effects as traditional chemotherapy drugs. Standard chemotherapy drugs are typically not used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes, unless the disorder becomes higher-risk.
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Different Types Of Therapies
Since older individuals are those afflicted with myelodysplastic syndromes, they may want to consider different types of therapies. They may not be able to tolerate multiple blood transfusions or harsh medicines. However, as medicine has evolved, the toll they take on the body has decreased when using newer medications. Other than medicines and supportive care, there are really no other therapies to combat myelodysplastic syndromes. Therefore, the patient needs to get all the information they can about different medicines and all their side effects. Sitting down with their doctor to discuss and understand everything is critical. Herbal or natural remedies should be part of the conversation with their doctor. Promise has been shown using maitake mushroom extracts and 6-shogaol. Additionally, individuals with a propensity of developing myelodysplastic syndromes should avoid lifestyle, environmental, and occupational exposure to certain chemicals.
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Care for myelodysplastic syndromes focuses on treating and preventing the symptoms of the disorder. Anemia causes severe fatigue, therefore using a growth factor may help the bone marrow produce red blood cells, which will treat the anemia and less the fatigue. It will not cure the myelodysplastic syndromes, but it will help manage the fatigue caused by it. Individuals who undergo blood transfusions can suffer from an iron build-up in their system. Some drugs bind to the iron and allow the body to get rid of it. While this will not prevent the build-up or create a situation where blood transfusions are not necessary, it will help the body get rid of iron that has accumulated in the organs, like the heart and liver.
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The only possibility of a cure for myelodysplastic syndromes is bone marrow or stem cell transplants. Transplants allow doctors to replace the underproducing or diseased bone marrow with healthy marrow that will produce the cells the way it is supposed to. The biggest problem with this option is it is very hard on the body. However, advancements in transplantation and the matching of donors and recipients has led to lower mortality rates. There are still barriers to transplants, which causes a delay in the time between transplant and the actual procedure. This gives the condition a longer period to ravage the patient and can often mean, even if approved for the transplant, the patient dies before the transplant can take place. If a patient is approved for transplant, there are a few options as to the type of chemotherapy they are given. In younger patients, they are given higher doses that ensure all the unhealthy bone marrow is destroyed. In older patients, sometimes they are given a lower dose that is just enough to kill the unhealthy bone marrow but results in fewer side effects. The most significant side effect is the danger of infection because the new marrow needs to take hold and generate the cells that are used by the body to fend off infection. Regardless, all possibilities should be investigated.