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Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

Every year, approximately 3-5 children in the Netherlands are diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome. In the case of MDS, the stem cells in the bone marrow do not mature or do not mature enough. Due to the poor quality of the cells, the body destroys most of them before they enter the bloodstream, causing a lack of platelets and white and/or red blood cells. Too many immature myeloid cells (a type of white blood cell) can also develop.

The brochure Bone marrow failure contains comprehensive information about this disease. Please note this brochure is currently only available in Dutch. The most important information is provided below.


We do not know actually what causes myelodysplastic disorders. Very occasionally, myelodysplasia is a late effect of past chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment.


Children with MDS are often tired and lethargic, bleed and bruise easily, and also suffer from abdominal and bone pain. Children with Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML), a disease that is classified under MDS, often have an enlarged spleen, swollen lymph nodes and peculiar skin spots. They are sometimes also short of breath.

How is myelodysplastic syndrome diagnosed?

Blood tests are done and bone marrow is extracted under sedation.


Children with MDS are treated according to a protocol drawn up by national and international experts. MDS treatment is sometimes put on hold, in which case children are given blood transfusions or immunosuppressive drugs if needed. If necessary, an allogeneic stem cell transplant is performed. JMML treatment sometimes starts with chemotherapy, but ultimately an allogeneic stem cell transplant is always required.

Chance of recovery

The chance of recovery depends greatly on any complications during treatment.


Children with MDS are treated in the hematology-oncology department.

Telephone 088-9727272