Myelodysplastic syndrome, a potentially fatal group of disorders that occurs from poorly formed blood cells, has been linked to long-term exposure to benzene.
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condition in which the bone marrow in the body produces insufficient amounts of healthy blood cells which are needed to control various functions within the body. The condition can be dangerous because of the adverse effects that may occur and the possibility of the condition turning into acute myelogenous leukemia. The condition occurs when the bone marrow begins to produce abnormal blood cells with corrupted DNA. These blood cells do not perform properly and multiply rapidly, causing the blood to lose its effectiveness at many tasks. As the abnormal blood cells multiply, they take up valuable room needed by the healthy blood cells and begin to sicken the individual affected.
The common signs of myelodysplastic syndrome depend on the type of blood cells affected by the condition. If the number of healthy red blood cells has decreased, then the individual may develop anemia. In many cases, the development of anemia requiring blood transfusions may result from the development of myelodysplastic syndrome. Anemia is generally accompanied by fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pains, and chills. If the levels of white blood cells are affected, the body begins to lose the ability to fight infection and the individual will become ill much more often. When the levels of platelets in the blood are affected, the body is unable to heal after injury, resulting in easier bruising, uncontrolled bleeding, frequent nosebleeds, and a condition called petechiae, which is small amounts of blood pooling in the pores of the skin.
It is unknown exactly how many individuals in the United States have developed myelodysplastic syndrome as many cases of the condition go undiagnosed. Experts estimate that between 10,000 and 20,000 new cases of myelodysplastic syndrome occur each year. The average age of diagnosis is around 65 years of age and the condition occurs more frequently in men than women. About 50% of cases of myelodysplastic syndrome that cause death is due to excessive bleeding or complications from infection. Exposure to high levels of hydrocarbons or chemicals, such as benzene and xylene, has been linked to the development of myelodysplastic syndrome. The inhalation of cigarette smoke has also been linked to the condition, which is not surprising as many of the chemicals present in cigarette smoke are also found in industrial processes. Long term exposure to chemotherapy or radiation has also been linked to the development of the condition.
The risk of being diagnosed with the condition increases with age. There are several different treatments that can be used to manage myelodysplastic syndrome, but there is no known cure for the condition. If the condition develops into leukemia, the cancer will be aggressive and will be very resistant to most types of treatment. Treatment is used to manage the symptoms of myelodysplastic syndrome, as well as improve the quality of life of the individual affected with the condition. Which proper myelodysplastic syndrome treatment, many individuals can manage their syndrome for many years without major complications.
Related Article: Myelodysplastic Syndrome (Causes & Risk Factors)
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