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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

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.

Patient Tip

Ask for help. Your friends, family and colleagues really do want to help, but they might not always know what you need.

Myelodysplastic Syndrome Stages

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 Level IPSS Score
Low risk 0
Intermediate risk 1 0.5 – 1
Intermediate risk 2 1.5 - 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.

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials
offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about myelodysplastic syndrome in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.