Dysplastic Anemia

About Dysplastic Anemia

Dysplastic anemia is a kind of blood disorder that tends to occur in older individuals.  Dysplastic anemia is one of several diseases that health care professionals categorize under the umbrella term, mylodysplastic syndromes.  These include a variety of blood related conditions that sometimes overlap and often present with similar symptoms.  If you discover that you suffer from dysplastic anemia, the bad news is that the medical community has not yet found a “cure” for this condition.  The good news is that with close medical supervision and continuous follow-ups, you will be able to manage you’re the problems related to this syndrome.

A Question of Definitions

Dysplastic anemia is easy to understand if you understand what the individual terms mean.  A dysplasia is a disorder that occurs when certain bodily structures develop in a way that is abnormal.  Anemia is a blood disorder in which individuals lack adequate red-blood cells.  Therefore, dysplastic anemia is a type of blood disorder in which the sufferer develops fewer functional red blood cells than normal because of a disorder in the formation of his or her blood cells.

The medical community categorizes this disease as a mylodysplastic syndrome (abbreviated MDS).  The prefix, “mylo-" simply means that the disorder has to do with the spinal cord.  When physicians term something a “syndrome,” it indicates that there are series of symptoms and conditions that occur together without necessarily being inextricably connected.  Therefore, a mylodysplastic syndrome is a set of symptoms and conditions that relate to spine related problems resulting from poorly formed bodily cells.


The cause for dysplastic anemia usually remains unknown.  However, the condition often develops as an unintended consequence of chemotherapy.


The most common symptoms of MDS are those that a typical anemic experiences.  Thus, someone suffering from dysplastic anemia is likely to experience a tiredness he or she can’t seem to shake.  The sufferer may also experience a general feeling of weakness and may even seem pale to others.  All this happens because anemia means a lack of red blood cells.  As you may know, red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body and when you lack an adequate number, anemia and the typical symptoms of anemia occur.

MDS may also result in the lack of white blood cells and platelets as well.  White blood cells are the “soldiers” in the immune system.  They help combat infection.  Thus, if you suffer form MDS, you are more likely to have more fevers and prolonged infections.  Similarly, the lack of blood platelets means that you are more likely to bruise and to have difficulty healing from cuts.  This happens because blood platelets play a key role in creating red and white cells.


In order to help your body stay healthy, one of the most common treatments is a blood transfusion.  This treatment addresses the immediate result of MDS, but since the patient’s body continues not to produce replacement blood cells, the patient has to continue to undergo multiple transfusions in order to sustain the beneficial effects of the treatment.


Other aspects of the treatment attempt to address the negative effects of MDS.  The patient will usually take a course of medicines that will help to fight infection and bolster the patient’s immune system.  Yet another way of treating MDS is to try to help the body produce more healthy blood cells.  This course of treatment has generally had mixed results.

Others with MDS

With such treatments, patients are able to lead normal and productive lives.  In fact, there are a number of celebrities that suffer form this condition.  The late Carl Sagan (the popular scientific writer and television personality), for example, was just one of the people who managed to overcome the difficulties involved in the dysplastic anemia.