Sat, Oct 22, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Doctors urge awareness of bone marrow illness

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Doctors urged the public to pay attention to signs of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), which they said are often neglected, ahead of Tuesday’s MDS World Awareness Day.

MDS are a group of disorders in which the bone marrow fails to produce enough healthy blood cells, said Lin Dong-tsamn (林東燦), director of the Hematology Society of Taiwan and a pediatrician at National Taiwan University Hospital.

In 2013, of the 1,963 people diagnosed with leukemia, 242 had MDS and more than 70 percent of the patients were above the age of 60, he said, citing government statistics.

However, he added that the figures are likely to be understated.

MDS are often neglected, because patients might experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all in the early stages, said Chang Ming-chih (張明志), executive council member of the Hematology Society of Taiwan and a hematologist and oncologist at Mackay Memorial Hospital.

He said some people with MDS take iron supplements, because they think anemia, one symptom, is caused by iron deficiency.

Chang cited the case of a 44-year-old woman, surnamed Sun (孫), who was diagnosed with anemia when she was 35, but neglected to seek medical attention until she passed out and was taken to a hospital at age 37, when she was diagnosed with MDS.

Sun showed signs of fatigue before the diagnosis, Chang said, adding that she was sleepy during the day, was easily tired when doing physical activities and often fell ill, but she associated them with exhaustion.

“People with MDS need blood transfusions and they usually have too much iron in their blood, not iron deficiency, so taking iron supplements might cause harm,” he said, adding: “People should undergo an examination to make sure if they have iron deficiency before taking supplements.”

Chang said MDS do not only occur in elderly people, so if people have chronic anemia, they should undergo a medical examination, adding that if an MDS test is needed, they would have to have a bone marrow aspiration.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top