Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) are a group of disorders that affect normal blood cell production in the bone marrow. In MDS, the bone marrow produces too few red cells, white cells and / or platelets, and an excess of immature blood cells known as blast cells.
There are several different types of MDS and the disease can vary in its severity, and the extent to which blood cell production is disrupted. In mild cases, people may be anaemic, or have few symptoms of their disease. In more severe cases, a shortage of circulating blood cells can cause severe anaemia, increased susceptibility to infection, and bruising and bleeding more easily.
Furthermore, in up to 30 percent of cases, MDS can progress to a type of leukaemia. Because of this it is sometimes called a preleukaemic disorder.
While MDS can occur at any age, the majority of cases (over 90 percent) develop over the age of 60 years.
Amyloidosis is the general name given to a group of disorders in which an abnormal protein known as 'amyloid' builds up in the blood and is deposited in organs and tissues around the body. These deposits progressively accumulate and disrupt the normal function of the tissues, eventually leading to organ failure. The organs most commonly affected include heart, liver, kidneys, nervous system and the gut.
While amyloidosis is not a type of cancer, it is a very serious and life threatening disorder.