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by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Symptoms of Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

There may be no symptoms if MDS is in early stages. But, symptoms appear as the disease worsens.
Other, less serious conditions can cause these symptoms. But, it is important to talk to the doctor. Finding and treating the cause early will improve the chances for a cure.

Common Symptoms

MDS symptoms are mainly related to the low numbers of a certain blood cell type. Each blood cell has a certain function in the body. If they are not in a normal range, it may cause problems.
Low Numbers of Red Blood Cells
A drop in the number of normal red blood cells is called anemia. This lowers the amount of oxygen reaching the body's tissues. It can cause symptoms such as:
  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Pale skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fast heart beat
  • Problems breathng
  • Headache
  • Mood changes
Low Numbers of White Blood Cells
A drop in the number of normal white blood cells makes it harder for the body to fight infection. It and may cause symptoms such as:
  • Lasting fever that is not caused by another health condition
  • Frequent infections
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Slow healing of minor cuts
Low Numbers of Platelets
A drop in the number of normal platelets makes it harder for blood to clot. If the blood does not clot, even small injuries can lead to severe bleeding. Symptoms may include:
  • Bleeding or bruising easily
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tiny red spots under the skin
  • Heavy bleeding with monthly periods


General information about myelodysplastic syndromes. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloproliferative/patient/myelodysplastic-treatment-pdq#%5F1. Accessed April 19, 2022.
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/myelodysplastic-syndrome-mds. Accessed April 19, 2022.
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Merck Manual Professional Version website Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/leukemias/myelodysplastic-syndrome-mds. Accessed April 19, 2022.
Signs and symptoms of myeloysplastic syndromes. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html. Accessed April 19, 2022.
Understanding MDS. MDS Foundation website. Available at: https://www.mds-foundation.org/what-is-mds. Accessed April 19, 2022.

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