Symptoms Of Preleukemia: Causes & Treatment For Myelodysplasia

Preleukemia is also called in modern medical literature as myelodysplastic syndrome. It is a type of blood cancer in which the bone marrow is ineffective in producing healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. In normal healthy state the bone marrow produces healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen in each and every cell, WBC to fight germs and platelets for blood clotting.

In preleukemia, the bone marrow produces very less amount of blood cells or defective cells. Preleukemia state has propensity to undergo transformation into acute myeloid leukemia. The condition frequently affects men in older age group (median age 70).

Nearly all patients are anemic. The disease becomes worse on reduction in cell count as a result of failure of bone marrow.

Signs And Symptoms Of Preleukemia

Nearly all patients suffering from preleukemia are anemic with intense fatigue. There are less number of RBCs. The same is with white blood cell count. Because of low white blood cell count the body is unable to mount an appropriate inflammatory response to infection.

Patients are prone to bacterial infection. Upper respiratory tract infection is common sequel of myelodysplastic syndrome.

Almost 60 percent of patients with preleukemia also have low platelet count (thrombocytopenia).

Due to low platelet count patient is susceptible to bruises with minor trauma. Patient also complains of headache and fever but in most cases the reason remains obscure.

Causes Of Pre Leukemia

Preleukemia usually develops in elderly individuals. The risk increases as a person grows older. There are certain predisposing factors for occurrence of this disease. There is increased number of patients who had previously been treated with chemotherapy for other types of malignancies are susceptible to this condition.

Myelodysplastic syndrome also occurs in people who are exposed to variety of marrow toxins including perticides, hair dyes, radioactive substance, auto and factory fumes, paints and chemicals, asbestos etc.

Preleukemia that occurs due to substances generally occurs in younger individuals and generally has more aggressive course.

Treatment Options For Myelodysplasia

The aim of effective treatment is to prolong and improve quality of life of the patient. Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms.

  • In general younger patients are offered aggressive chemotherapy treatment with bone marrow transplantation. Patient above the age of 60 may require supportive care. For example supportive care includes correction of anemia with red blood cell transfusion at regular interval.
  • Younger patients are considered for iron chelation therapy. In some cases use of erythropoietin may be considered to improve anemia.
  • Bone marrow transplantation is currently the only curative treatment of preleukemia condition. Results of transplantation are best observed in younger patients.