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Brief Educational Videos

Here you will find brief educational videos that cover a variety of topics related to myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). These videos are hosted by nurses from leading treatment centers.
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What Patients with MDS Can Expect During Treatment

Sandra Kurtin, RN, MSN, AOCN, ANP-C, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Nursing, University of Arizona College of Nursing, Tucson, AZ, discusses what your patients with myelodysplastic syndromes can expect throughout treatment and management.

Hello, I’m Sandy Kurtin and in this video we’ll be discussing what your patients with myelodysplastic syndromes can expect throughout treatment and management. Before we begin, let’s review the basics.

In patients with MDS stem cells created in the bone marrow may have mutations that make them abnormal in shape. Some abnormal cells may die in the bone marrow, while others may enter the peripheral blood. Normal blood cells are crowded out by abnormal stem cells in the bone marrow and blood. As MDS progresses blood counts drop, which can lead to symptoms caused by anemia, neutropenia, or thrombocytopenia. 2,3

Your patients may be receiving supportive care, such as transfusions, which may increase their complete blood counts in lab results, prior to starting active treatment. Many treatments require some time before a patient responds.

Blood counts may drop before before they start to improve. Because of this, your patients may say they feel worse or discouraged in the first months of treatment and they may look to you for support. Dose modifications may be necessary during this time. At this point, your patients should expect frequent blood tests and may need more supportive care. After a period of time on treatment, your patients may begin to respond. If your patients respond to treatment, the bone marrow will start to recover allowing it to make healthy blood cells again. And as the blood cell counts rise, your patient will begin to feel better and may need less supportive care. 2,5,6

Throughout continued MDS management, your patient will have ongoing blood tests, examinations, and monitoring. It’s important to continue following all of your patients closely as some patients may need less supportive care, while others may experience disease progression. Be sure to help them understand what to expect during treatment and management. It is crucial that they understand that they may feel worse before feeling better. 2-6

Engaging in a simple conversation may reveal a change in your patient’s “normal.” Ask specific questions like, “Are you sleeping more?” or “Are there things that you were able to do that you’re not able to do now?” Their answers may reveal clinically relevant information before lab tests can confirm. It’s important to involve caregivers in this conversation as well, they could observe symptoms that patients may not notice. Please explore the Nurse and Patient Resources tab of where you can download the Understanding MDS tearpad PDF among other useful tools. It reviews all of the information we’ve talked about today in greater detail, and can serve as a helpful teaching tool.

Establishing a protocol for tracking diagnostic measurements, transfusion requirements, and response to therapies is also helpful during treatment. To get started, you can download a patient transfusion tracker that is available on the resources tab.

For more information, register at to get access to educational resources, read more about transfusion dependence, and meet our oncology nurse experts.

1. Yoshida Y. Physical education: myelodysplastic syndromes. Oncologist. 1996;1(4):284-287.
2. Barzi A, Sekeres MA. Myelodysplastic syndromes: Apractical approach to diagnosis and treatment. Cleve Clin JMed. 2010;77(1):37-44.
3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Blood and bone marrow.Available at: el_cancer_center/centers/blood_bone_marrow_cancers/blood_bone_marrow_cancer_basics.html. Accessed February 26, 2016.
4. Zeidan AM, Linhares Y, Gore SD. Current therapy ofmyelodysplastic syndromes. Blood Rev. 2013;27(5):243-259.
5. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Myelodysplasticsyndromes. Available at: Updated 2014. Accessed September 16, 2015.
6. Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation. Frequently asked questions. Available at: Accessed February 26,2016.