While establishing a diagnosis of myelodysplasia, doctors need to determine its stage, meaning how advanced the disease has become. This helps in determining prognosis and in treatment planning.
Although many cases of myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS, have no known cause, the following are commonly-accepted risk factors:
- Age over 60 years (although pediatric cases do occur, especially after previous chemotherapy)
- Being male and white
- Past treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Exposure to certain chemicals, including tobacco smoke, pesticides, heavy metals such as mercury or lead, and solvents such as benzene. A more complete list of these environmental agents can be viewed above.