Expert Videos

Module: Understanding Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Expert Video - What is MDS?
MDS expert, Dr Stephen Nimer, provides an overview of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). MDS is a blood disease in which the bone marrow fails to produce enough of one or more types of healthy blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets). Doctors consider MDS a form of blood cancer and in some patients it can turn into acute myeloid leukemia (AML) if it gets worse.
Watch now
Expert Video - What causes MDS?
MDS expert, Dr Stephen Nimer, explains that with a few exceptions, the exact causes of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are unknown. Some factors may increase the risk of developing MDS, including: certain genetic changes, previous chemotherapy, exposure to high dose radiation, and long-term exposure to certain chemicals. MDS happens when something affects the bone marrow cells, changing the DNA’s instructions for making blood cells, but doctors don’t know exactly what affects the cells to cause MDS in a particular person at a particular time.
Watch now
Expert Video - What are the symptoms of MDS?
MDS expert, Dr Stephen Nimer, describes the variety of symptoms that may be associated with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Symptoms vary and depend on which blood cells are low. A low red cell count (anemia) may lead to shortness of breath or fatigue. A low platelet count (thrombocyctopenia) may cause easy bruising or bleeding. A low white cell count (neutropenia) may lead to frequent infections and fever. Some people with MDS have no symptoms, and are diagnosed by chance after a routine blood test.
Watch now
Expert Video - What are the risk factors for MDS?
MDS expert, Dr Stephen Nimer, provides an overview of the factors that may increase the risk of developing myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), including: age, previous chemotherapy, high doses of radiation, and long-term exposure to certain chemicals. In rare cases, genetic changes may increase a person’s risk of developing MDS.
Watch now
Expert Video - Can MDS be prevented?
MDS expert, Dr Stephen Nimer, explains that there is no sure way to prevent myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). It is a very rare disease and currently there is no widely recommended screening test. Doctors are working to learn more about MDS and research is continuing to identify genetic abnormalities in MDS patients and possible treatments for prevention.
Watch now
Expert Video - Is MDS hereditary? Does genetics play a role?
MDS expert, Dr Stephen Nimer, discusses hereditary forms of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and provides an overview of the role that genetics and epigenetics play in the development of the disease.
Watch now
Expert Video - What are the types of MDS?
MDS expert, Dr Stephen Nimer, provides an overview of the different types of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), including: unilineage dysplasia, refractory anemia with excess blasts, chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, 5q- syndrome, and del(5q). There are about 10 different subtypes of MDS, depending on unilineage or multilineage dysplasia, the presence or absence of ringed sideroblasts, and the percentage of blasts.
Watch now
Expert Video - How is MDS classified?
MDS expert, Dr Stephen Nimer, provides an overview of how myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are classified. He describes the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS), and the revised International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS-R), and the World Health Organization (WHO) classification system. Each is described in the video in detail. The classifications help doctors plan treatment and predict a patient’s prognosis.
Watch now
Expert Video - How serious a cancer is MDS? What is the prognosis for MDS?
MDS expert, Dr Stephen Nimer, describes the prognosis of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). MDS is considered a type of cancer and prognosis varies dramatically depending on many factors, as described in the video in detail. Some patients may have less than 1 year to live from the time of their diagnosis, and others may live 10 or 15 years, or more. In some cases, MDS can progress to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) if it gets worse.
Watch now

Module: Diagnosis of MDS

Expert Video - How is MDS diagnosed?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, describe how they diagnose myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), including the symptoms that allude to the disease and the laboratory tests that confirm the diagnosis (blood cell counts, blood cell examination, and bone marrow tests). They also discuss cytogenetic tests that look for certain changes to chromosomes, and tests for specific gene mutations.
Watch now
Expert Video - What is involved in screening for MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, discuss that there is currently no standardized screening test for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Patients who have persistent low blood counts (cytopenias) might be referred to a hematologist to test for MDS. Patients who are at risk should be followed closely for any unusual changes or progression.
Watch now
Expert Video - What is genetic testing for MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, describe the genetic tests that are used for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and provide an overview of cytogenetics, fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), mutation testing, and next generation sequencing. These tests provide important MDS diagnostic and prognostic information.
Watch now
Expert Video - What are the clinical features and symptoms of MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, describe the clinical features and symptoms of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Symptoms depend on which blood cell counts are low. Patients with low white cell counts (neutropenia) may have frequent infections and fever. Patients with low red cell counts (anemia) may have shortness of breath or fatigue. Patients with low platelet counts (thrombocyctopenia) may bleed or bruise easily. There is a risk that MDS can turn into leukemia if it gets worse.
Watch now
Expert Video - What are the overlap syndromes that have features of MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of the MDS overlap syndromes that have features similar to myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). They describe overlap syndromes such as chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, atypical chronic myeloid leukemia, and others.
Watch now
Expert Video - What is the prognostic classification of MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of the prognostic classification systems for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) that are used to predict outlook and decide on treatment options. The International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) and the Revised International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS-R) help determine if a patient has a lower risk or a higher risk of their MDS progressing into acute myeloid leukemia, and help doctors plan treatment.
Watch now

Module: Management and Treatment of MDS

Expert Video - What are the treatment options for MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, describe the common treatment options for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). The treatments discussed are: supportive care, therapies that help improve blood counts, disease-modifying treatment, high dose chemotherapy, and blood and marrow transplant (BMT). You might have some or all of these treatments, depending on your MDS type and risk category.
Watch now
Expert Video - How is lower-risk MDS treated?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, explain that the goals of therapy for patients with lower-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are to improve blood counts and alleviate symptoms. The treatment options for lower-risk MDS discussed are: recombinant erythropoietin, lenalidomide, immunosuppressive therapy, and hypomethylating agents. They also discuss watchful waiting if a patient with lower-risk MDS has no symptoms or doesn’t have very low blood cell counts.
Watch now
Expert Video - How is higher-risk MDS treated?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, explain that the goals of therapy for patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are to improve symptoms, decrease the risk of leukemia, and improve survival. The primary treatment options for higher-risk MDS discussed are: hypomethylating agents (azacitidine and decitabine) and allogeneic stem cell transplant.
Watch now
Expert Video - What is supportive care for MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of supportive care treatments that are used to help treat or prevent symptoms or complications of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). They discuss iron chelation therapy (used to treat iron build up from blood transfusions) and myeloid growth factors (also called blood and marrow transplant, or BMT).
Watch now
Expert Video - Are vitamin supplements beneficial for MDS treatment?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, describe the role of vitamin supplementation in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). They discuss the importance of eating a healthy diet, and the importance of avoiding iron supplements or iron-containing medications in order to prevent iron overload. Work with your health care team to determine which vitamins and supplements you can use safely.
Watch now
Expert Video - What are erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESAs)?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of the use of erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESA’s) for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). ESA’s stimulate the bone marrow to help make red blood cells. They describe how ESA’s are given, how often they are used, and how long the benefits typically last.
Watch now
Expert Video - What is cytotoxic chemotherapy and when is it used for MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of cytotoxic chemotherapy for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). This treatment uses chemotherapy to kill the abnormal cells in your bone marrow. Higher-risk MDS can potentially progress to acute myeloid leukemia (AML), so some patients with higher-risk MDS may receive the same chemotherapy treatment as AML patients.
Watch now
Expert Video - What is lenalidomide and when is it used for MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of the use of lenalidomide for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). This treatment is highly effective in patients with the chromosome 5q deletion type of MDS. It may also be used in lower-risk MDS patients. They also discuss the potential side effects of lenalidomide.
Watch now
Expert Video - What are hypomethylating agents and when are they used for MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of hypomethylating agents for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). These medications work by turning on genes to kill the cancer cells. Examples discussed are azacitidine and decitabine. The doctors describe how these drugs are given, how they work, and potential side effects.
Watch now
Expert Video - How long will MDS treatment be given?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, describe the treatment cycle for azacitidine, a medication used for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Treatment may be continued for as long as the patient continues to benefit. It is crucial that treatment decisions be made in consultation with your doctor, based on your personal situation.
Watch now
Expert Video - What is immunosuppressive therapy and when is it used for MDS?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of immunosuppressive therapy for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Immunosuppressive medications work by suppressing the immune attack on the bone marrow. Examples discussed are cyclosporine and antithymocyte globulin (ATG). The doctors describe how these drugs are given, how they work, and potential side effects.
Watch now
Expert Video - What other options are there if first-line MDS treatment doesn’t work?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, discuss treatment options and sequences that might be used if the first-line treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) does not work, or stops working. These decisions are personalized for each patient, so it is important to talk to your doctor about trying another drug, or a combination of drugs, or about possible clinical trials.
Watch now

Module: Blood and Marrow Transplantation in MDS

Expert Video - What is a blood and marrow transplant (BMT)?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, describe what blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) is, and when it is used for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Doctors also call BMT a stem cell transplant or hematopoietic stem cell transplant. BMT is a treatment that replaces your diseased stem cells with healthy ones. BMT is the only treatment that may cure MDS. The doctors explain how it works and who is eligible for BMT. They also describe allogeneic transplant (using cells from another person) and autologous transplant (using your own cells).
Watch now
Expert Video - Who can be a blood and marrow transplant donor?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of who can be a donor for blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). A donor can be a sibling, a child, or someone from the bone marrow registry who is not related to you. A matching donor is found using a test called HLA typing. HLA-matched bone marrow is less likely to cause a potential side effect called graft versus host disease (GVHD).
Watch now
Expert Video - How is a blood and marrow transplant done? What should I expect?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, describe the process that a patient will go through when receiving a blood and marrow transplant (BMT) for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).The procedure takes place in hospital and begins with chemotherapy. After a few days, the new stem cells are given to the patient via central line. Once in the body, the new cells will circulate and in time begin to grow and make new, healthy blood cells. The doctors also discuss potential side effects, as well as the monitoring and follow-up care that is required.
Watch now
Expert Video - What is Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD) and why does it happen?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, provide an overview of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), which might happen after an allogeneic transplant (a transplant that uses stem cells from a donor). In GVHD, the donor cells that make up your new immune system see your body’s cells as foreign and start to attack them. They also discuss acute GVHD and chronic GVHD, as well as medications to prevent or treat the condition.
Watch now
Expert Video - How effective is blood and marrow transplantation (BMT)?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, discuss the effectiveness of blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). BMT may cure MDS in some patients, while for others remission may be the best result. Talk to your doctor about whether BMT is an option for you.
Watch now
Expert Video - Is blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) safe?
MDS experts, Dr Alan List and Dr David Sallman, discuss the safety of blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Outcomes have improved in recent years, and more patients can now be considered for BMT. The success of the transplant and the severity of side effects vary from person to person, and can be difficult to predict. Talk to your doctor about whether BMT is an option for you.
Watch now

This educational activity has been developed by
the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation, Inc and Mechanisms in Medicine Inc.

This activity is supported by charitable grants from Celgene Corporation, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, and Takeda Oncology.

This website is part of the Animated Patient™ series developed by Mechanisms in Medicine Inc., to provide highly visual formats of learning for patients to improve their understanding, make informed decisions, and partner with their health care professionals for optimal outcomes.