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The symptoms of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) depend on how severe the disease is. Many people with MDS have no symptoms when they are diagnosed. Their disease is found through a routine blood test that reveals low numbers of one or more of the three types of blood cells. Anemia – low numbers of red blood cells – is the most common symptom of MDS.

Signs of anemia include feeling tired or weak, being short of breath, and looking unusually pale. Because white blood cells fight infections, low numbers of these cells can lead to fever and frequent infections. Platelets control bleeding, and low numbers of these cells can lead to easy bleeding or bruising.

In severe MDS, infection or uncontrolled bleeding can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

Learn how transplant can treat MDS.

MedlinePlus [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); [updated 2013 Sept 16; cited 2013 Sept 16]. Available from: