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Myelodysplastic Syndrome Diagnosis

Accurate diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome is essential, but it can be challenging. Our experts see a larger number of patients with this rare disease, and they are among the most skilled in its diagnosis. They use the most advanced technologies and techniques.

If you have symptoms that may signal myelodysplastic syndrome, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health, your lifestyle, including smoking, and your family medical history.

Myelodysplastic Syndrome Diagnosis

One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if you have myelodysplastic syndrome. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working.

  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow tests, including bone marrow biopsy or bone marrow aspiration

Getting a Second Opinion at MD Anderson

The experts at MD Anderson are highly specialized in diagnosing and staging myelodysplastic syndrome. We welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions.

If you would like to get a second opinion at MD Anderson, call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Internationally known myelodysplastic syndrome program
  • More experience with myelodysplastic syndrome than most centers
  • Close collaboration with referring physicians
  • Innovative myelodysplastic syndrome therapies, including access to new agents and “mini” stem cell transplants
  • Clinical trials of new treatments for myelodysplastic syndrome that may not be available elsewhere
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome is part of MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program: an ambitious effort to reduce cancer deaths through the rapid discovery of new treatments

Myelodysplastic Syndrome Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Myelodysplastic syndrome is treated in our:

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Myelodysplastic Syndrome Staging

If you are diagnosed with MDS, your doctor will determine the stage of the disease. Staging is a way of classifying cancer by how much disease is in the body and where it has spread when it is diagnosed. This helps the doctor plan the best way to treat the cancer.

Since myelodysplastic syndrome affects the bone marrow, it is staged differently than other types of cancer. Your doctor will look at your blood counts, the appearance of your bone marrow, your age and changes in your genes.

Over the past 30 years, at least three classification systems have been created in an effort to categorize the various types of MDS. MD Anderson uses the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS), a numerical score to determine a patient's risk for myelodysplastic syndrome.

Risk LevelIPSS Score
Low risk0
Intermediate risk 10.5 – 1
Intermediate risk 21.5 - 2
High risk≥2.5


The following factors are used to calculate the IPSS score:

 

0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

% Marrow Blasts

<5

5-10

 

11-20

21-30

Cytogenetics

Normal, -Y
del(5)q alone
del(20)q alone

Other

-7, del(7)q
≥3 abnormal

  

Cytopenias:

  • Hemoglobin (HGB) < 10 g/dl
  • Absolute Neutrophils (ANC) <1.500/ul
  • Platelets (PLT)<100K/ul

0/1

2/3

   


The IPSS score also is used to predict age-related survival rates and the risk of MDS developing into acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

New Prognostic Model

While recognizing the usefulness of the IPSS, MD Anderson doctors have developed a new prognostic model specifically for the Low and Int-1 subset of MDS patients.

Adverse Factor

Assigned
Score

Unfavorable cytogeneticsa

1

Age > 60 years

2

Hgb <10 g/dl

1

Plt <50 K/ul

2

Plt 50–200 K/ul

1

BM blasts >4%

1

aIn this analysis, diploid and 5q only were favorable cytogenetic, all others were considered as unfavorable cytogenetics.
Abbreviations: BM, bone marrow; Hgb, hemoglobin; Plt, platelets.


Estimated survival outcomes within each score range and proposed risk categories

Score

No. of patients

Median
(month)

Four-year survival (%)

Category

0

11

NR

78

1

1

58

83

 82

1

2

113

51

51

1

3

185

36

40

2

4

223

22

 27

2

5

166

14

9

3

6

86

16

7

3

7

13

9

NA

3

Abbreviations: NA, not assessable; NR, not reached.

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center