Since myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS, are diseases of blood and bone marrow, careful analysis of both is critical.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
The CBC often provides the first signs that a patient has MDS by revealing unusually low levels of certain types of blood cells. A CBC measures the following:
- The number of red blood cells and platelets
- The number and type of white blood cells
- The amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells
- The portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells (called the hematocrit)
Peripheral blood smear
This is a procedure in which a sample of blood is checked for changes in the number, type, shape and size of blood cells, and for too much iron in the red blood cells.
Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy
Knowing how many blasts are in the bone marrow is important to accurately diagnose the type of MDS the patient has. Therefore, a bone marrow aspirate and biopsy are necessary. For this procedure, a needle is inserted into the hipbone or sternum to obtain a small piece of bone and sample of bone marrow, which are then analyzed under the microscope.
In cytogenetic studies, the bone marrow cells are examined for specific chromosomal abnormalities. The presence or absence of these markers can serve as a guide to prognosis and treatment.