Surgery is not a primary treatment for MDS, or myelodysplastic syndromes. MDS is an umbrella term for a group of conditions that interfere with the growth of red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets in the bone marrow. Most often, the result is an underproduction of healthy cells. Frequently, these conditions precede and progress to acute leukemia, which causes an overabundance of immature cells (blasts) to circulate in the bloodstream. Because surgery typically cannot remove all of these cells from a patient’s body, other treatments are usually prescribed as well.
Chemotherapy and targeted medications can be helpful for treating advanced cases of MDS, but the only form of treatment that is generally recognized as having curative potential is stem cell transplantation, or a bone marrow transplant. Sometimes, diagnosing or treating MDS may involve certain types of surgery, such as:
- A bone marrow biopsy – After inserting a needle through a patient’s pelvis or breastbone and into the bone marrow, a physician can draw out a small sample of marrow fluid for testing, then use a core biopsy needle to remove a tiny piece of bone. A pathologist can evaluate the samples under a microscope to determine the precise type of MDS a patient has developed, which can influence treatment decisions.
- Central venous infusaport placement – If a patient has a significant need for venous access for frequent transfusions, a physician may recommend the placement of a central venous access device under the skin, usually beneath the collarbone. This device, or “port,” can be used for administering blood products or antibiotics and for drawing blood when necessary. By reducing the need for frequent needle punctures in the skin, a port can improve a patient’s quality of life, particularly if he or she has small or difficult-to-access veins.
The Malignant Hematology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center is one of the largest and most well-respected MDS programs in the nation, providing comprehensive and multispecialty treatment for patients with all myelodysplastic syndromes. Our talented team of oncologists, hematologists, medical oncologists, supportive care providers and other professionals thoroughly assesses each patient’s case to determine the best possible approaches for working toward remission and restoring blood counts to healthy levels.
If you’re interested in learning more about surgery for MDS, the experts at Moffitt can discuss bone marrow biopsies and central venous infusaport placement procedures in depth. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.