Treatment of MDS depends on several factors, including stage of the disease, age and overall health of the individual as well as prognosis and likely response. At this time, bone marrow stem cell transplants are the only treatment available that will likely cure MDS. They are often the recommended treatment for children but are rarely useful in adults with MDS. Without a successful stem cell transplant, MDS is incurable and the focus of treatments is to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment needs often change over time.
If anemia is present, then blood transfusions may be necessary. Repeated blood transfusions may lead to the buildup of excess iron in the body and the need for iron chelation therapies.
Platelet transfusions may be necessary to control excessive bleeding.
Antibiotics may be required when WBC numbers are low and a person experiences recurrent infections.
Medications such as erythropoietin may be given in some cases to help stimulate RBC production. Growth factors such as granulocyte colony stimulating factor and granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor may be given to stimulate WBC production.
Some patients with MDS may be given chemotherapy agents such as 5-azacitidine and decitabine, immunomodulating drugs such as lenalidomide (especially those who have a del(5q) chromosome alteration), or immune suppressants.
New therapies for MDS continue to emerge from research and clinical trials. Individuals should talk to their doctors about the treatments that are best for their condition.