Diagnosing and Staging Myelodysplastic Syndrome

To accurately diagnose myelodysplastic syndrome, the City of Hope care team may need to perform several tests to determine how advanced the disease is. In addition to a routine physical exam and taking a patient’s medical and family history information, City of Hope staff may also perform biopsies and imaging tests.
  • Complete blood count – This basic test obtains an accurate count of all the different types of blood cells, which is crucial to diagnosing myelodysplastic syndrome disorders by revealing unusually low cell counts.
  • Blood chemistry test – The blood sample is also checked for certain substances, such as folate or vitamin B12. Abnormal levels can indicate tissue or organ dysfunction as a result of myelodysplasia.
  • Peripheral blood smear – A procedure that checks the blood sample for changes in cell numbers, size, shape or type. It also checks for iron levels in red blood cells.
  • Bone marrow aspirate and biopsy  Bone marrow tissue is extracted and examined by a pathologist under a microscope to determine if there are abnormal cells.
  • Cytogenetic analysis – An examination of chromosomal abnormalities in bone marrow cells. The presence or absence of certain abnormalities can help further classify the disease and guide clinicians to the most effective treatment.
Stages of Myelodysplasia
To properly plan for treatment, patients with myelodysplastic syndrome are staged in accordance to how advanced the disorder is. This is primarily done by taking a number of factors into consideration, including:
  • Type of myelodysplastic disorder
  • Patient’s blood counts and whether the patient needed blood transfusions
  • Percentage of blast cells in the patient’s bone marrow
  • Presence of genetic abnormalities
Based on these factors, patients are staged according to their risk level, with higher risk patients requiring more intensive treatments .
If you have been diagnosed with a myelodysplastic syndrome disorder or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.