There are a number of agents and techniques that may be used in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome. Because no agent is known to cure myelodysplastic syndrome, the goal of treating the condition is to manage the symptoms of the condition, improve the patient’s quality of life, increase the patient’s survival rate, and reduce the possibility of the condition progressing into acute myelogenous leukemia. Different treatments may be used depending on the stage that the condition is diagnosed in and how aggressive the condition has become. More aggressive cases of myelodysplastic syndrome require quick medical intervention and strong medications to manage the disorder, while mild cases of the condition may be without symptoms and not need treatment for many years after diagnosis.
The ability of the patient to manage the condition with treatments depends on a number of factors. The reason why the patient has developed myelodysplastic syndrome can have an effect on the chance of their case going into remission. Some individuals develop myelodysplastic syndrome after chemotherapy or radiation treatment for another condition. In these individuals, further doses of radiation or chemotherapy may not be effective and another treatment method must be used. The age and general health of the individual will also affect the course of treatment chosen. Many of the more effective myelodysplastic syndrome treatments have serious side effects and the individual must have the ability to heal from the treatments before certain treatments can be used. The type of blood cells that are affected by the condition will also determine the course of treatment taken. After all of these variables have been taken into account, the patient and physician will determine the best course of treatment to take.
There are several medications that have been approved for use in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome. Two of the medications, 5-azacytidine and decitabine, are used to reduce the amount of blood transfusions needed by the patient and to reduce the risk of the individual developing acute myelogenous leukemia. These agents are used in conjunction with chemotherapy for the best results. Chemotherapy is a primary treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome and has been shown to be an effective treatment for the disorder. Radiation therapy is also commonly used in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome to kill the cancerous cells being generated within the bone marrow of the patient. In some cases, blood transfusions are needed to combat the effects of anemia on the body due to the corruption of the red blood cells in the blood stream.
In rare cases, a bone marrow transplant may be used to help control the condition. Bone marrow transplantation is typically used in patients younger than 40 years of age with an aggressive case of myelodysplastic syndrome. The patient must be healthy enough to withstand the trauma associated with the treatment and will need a reasonable amount of time to recover after the treatment has been completed. Bone marrow transplantation is only used on severe cases of myelodysplastic syndrome and, in most cases, the condition responds favorably to the treatment. Other treatments for myelodysplastic syndrome are currently in clinical trials and being tested for effectiveness at treating the condition. It may be a number of years before these treatments are approved for human use, but every step taken in the direction of curing or eliminating the condition for future generations is a step in the right direction.
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