Myelodysplastic syndrome medical therapy

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Myelodysplastic syndrome Microchapters


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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1];Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Nawal Muazam M.D.[2]


Chemotherapy is recommended among all patients who develop myelodysplastic syndrome.[1]

Medical Therapy

  • Treatment is based on the type of myelodysplastic syndrome and the person's age and general health. The goal of treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome is to:[1]
    • Relieve symptoms
    • Slow or prevent progression of the disease
    • Improve quality of life


  • The most common chemotherapy drug used to treat myelodysplastic syndrome is cytarabine. Cytarabine may be combined with other pharmacological agents such as:[1]
  • Other chemotherapeutic agents that may be used to treat myelodysplastic syndrome include:[1]

Supportive Therapy

  • Supportive therapy is given to relieve symptoms and lessen the problems caused by abnormal blood cell counts or treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome.[1]


  • Patients with anemia may receive blood transfusions to correct the red blood cell counts.
  • Frequent blood transfusions can be complicated by a buildup of extra iron in the body, which is treated with drug therapy.
  • Patients with bleeding problems due to low platelet counts may be given platelet transfusions.

Growth Factors

  • Helps improve production of red blood cells
  • Also called granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)
  • Helps improve production of white blood cells
  • A long-acting G-CSF

Supportive Therapy

  • Other drugs that may be used to treat symptoms or side effects of therapy include:[1]
  • Deferoxamine
  • treats excess iron in the blood
  • sometimes given with Vitamin C.
  • decreases the need for transfusions in people with a specific chromosome change
  • decreases the need for transfusions in certain types of myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Antibiotics
  • help to prevent or treat infections
  • stop cancer cells from producing DNA or RNA so the cells die


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome. National Cancer Institute (2015). Accessed on December 15, 2015

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