Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Treatment options for myelodysplastic syndromes include:

Blood Cell Transfusions

Often, the main treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes is a transfusion of red blood cells or platelets, administered intravenously by a needle into a vein, to control anemia or bleeding. Vitamins or other drugs also may be given to treat anemia.


Chemotherapy involves administering drugs to kill cancer cells. These drugs may be taken orally or may be injected by needle into a vein or muscle. This type of therapy is called a systemic treatment because the drug enters the bloodstream, travels through the body and can kill cancer cells throughout the body. For acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chemotherapy drugs may be injected through the spine into the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. This is known as intrathecal chemotherapy.

Biological Therapy

Biological therapy attempts to stimulate or restore the ability of your child's immune system to fight cancer. It uses substances produced by your child's body or made in a laboratory to boost, direct or restore the natural defenses against disease. Biological therapy is sometimes called biological response modifier therapy or immunotherapy.

Bone Marrow Transplant

In a bone marrow transplant (BMT), your child is given high doses of chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation therapy, to destroy all bone marrow in the body. After the existing bone marrow is destroyed, healthy bone marrow from a donor is transplanted back into your child. Healthy marrow comes from a donor whose tissue is the same or almost the same as your child's. The donor may be a twin, who would be the best match; a brother, sister or other relative; or an unrelated person. The healthy marrow is given to your child intravenously through a needle in the vein. A transplant using marrow from a relative or unrelated person is called an allogeneic bone marrow transplant.

Another type of bone marrow transplant, called an autologous transplant, uses the child's own bone marrow. But that treatment has not been found effective in treating myelodysplastic syndromes.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Cancer & Blood Disease

Blood & Marrow Transplant Program
1975 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 476-2188
Fax: (415) 502-4867
Appointment information

Treatment Center
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2584
Fax: (415) 353-2600
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