Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) are a large family hematological (blood) conditions that affect bone marrow stem cells and thus reduce the body’s production of blood cells. Not long ago it was thought that MDS would always lead to acute myelogenous leukemia, a deadly blood cancer. Today it is thought that about one third of MDS cases will progress into AML.
In it’s early stages MDS symptoms can be mild or even undetectable. Early symptoms can easily be written off by many adults as signs of overwork. The following are among the most common symptoms noticed by MDS patients prior to their diagnosis.
- shortness of breath
- unintentional weight loss
- frequent infections
- excessive bleeding and bruising
The direct cause is that bone marrow stem cells fail to mature and function properly. This makes them ineffective at their job of producing red and white blood cells. But what causes this abnormal development?
Environmental toxins are considered the major risk factor for MDS. Massive exposure to ionizing radiation or any exposure to benzene are proven causes of MDS . Studies are underway exploring a possible link between MDS and exposure to heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.
Specific treatment will depend on which subtype of MDS you are diagnosed with, and should be discussed with your doctor. While there is no cure for MDS the following therapies can alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life and overall survival, and slow the progression into acute myelogenous leukemia.
- Blood transfusions– can relieve many symptoms of MDS and greatly improve life quality, but patients need to be aware of the risks of multiple transfusions.
- Drug therapy– Certain medications can boost production of blood cells, and may be used in addition to transfusions.
- Chemotherapy– can reduce need for blood transfusions and slow progression of MDS into AML.
- Stem cell transplants– Used in severe cases and most successful in patients under 40, this relatively new treatment can dramatically reduce symptoms.
If diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndromes your immune system can be suppressed. Doctors recommend the following simple measures to reduce the possibility of infection.
- Avoid sick people
- wash hands frequently
- wash cook food thoroughly
Talk to a benzene Lawyer
Sadly many cases of MDS are a direct result of exposure to benzene in the workplace. Historically, many cases of benzene exposure could have been avoided. There many are effective ways to limit worker exposure. Responsible handling, storage and disposal procedures, as well as employee education, are crucial safeguards for the worker. In benzene exposure cases these key safety elements have often been overlooked or fallen short. Many MDS patients have successfully secured monetary compensation for their injuries. If you have been diagnosed with MDS that you feel is a result of on the job benzene exposure, you should contact a benzene lawyer without delay.