Television personality Robin Roberts has disclosed that she has MDS.
Myelodysplastic syndromes, commonly referred to as MDS, are not easily categorized. In fact, MDS encompasses numerous different diseases. MDS is a group of blood and bone marrow disorders. In MDS, stem cells do not mature normally. As such, the number of blasts, or immature cells, and dysplastic, or abnormally developed, cells increases. Meanwhile, the number of healthy mature cells goes down. This causes fewer normal red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
Because of the lower healthy cell count, individuals with MDS often experience anemia, which is a low red blood cell count. They may also have neutropenia, which is a low white blood cell count, and thrombocytopenia, which is a low number of platelets. Patients may also have abnormalities to the chromosomes in the bone marrow cells.
There are several subtypes of MDS, and some of these may turn into acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML is a cancer of the blood in which immature cells called blasts increase and grow uncontrollably.
Although there is a lot of cytogenetic and molecular heterogeneity, oncologists and researchers are beginning to learn that some of these molecular factors have an impact on prognosis and how patients respond to therapy.
Roberts is a co-host on ABC’s Good Morning America. She announced on Monday’s show that she has started conditioning therapy to prepare for an allogeneic bone marrow transplant later this year. As for a marrow donor, her sister was an “excellent match.”
MDS affects just more than 10,000 people a year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.
If you have MDS, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if your condition keeps you from being able to work. Please feel free to contact me to discuss how individuals with MDS may receive benefits from the Federal government for their condition.