For cancer, doctors typically use a system called staging to determine how early or how advanced a person’s disease is (stage I for early cancer to stage IV for advanced cancer). For myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), there isn’t the same type of staging system. Instead, doctors classify the disease using the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS). Your IPSS score helps your doctor determine how fast your disease is likely to progress (your prognosis).
- The percentage of blasts (very immature abnormal cells) in your bone marrow (categorized as less than 5 percent, 5 to 10 percent, 11 to 20 percent, or 21 to 30 percent)
- Which, if any, chromosome abnormalities are present in your marrow cells (categorized as good, intermediate, or poor)
- How many types of cytopenia (low blood counts) you have (from 0 if you have none to 3 if you have low red blood cells, low white blood cells, and low platelets)
Your score tells your doctor which of the following risk groups you are in:
- Low risk
- Intermediate risk level 1 (abbreviated Int-1)
- Intermediate risk level 2 (Int-2)
- High risk
Keep in mind that these risk groups are only estimates for groups of patients. Your risk group is meant to give you and your doctor an idea of what might happen for you based on what usually happens for people whose MDS is similar to yours. Your score cannot predict the precise outlook for you as an individual.