Supportive Care for Symptoms

Supportive Care for Symptoms

One approach to treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is supportive care—measures to help reduce symptoms. For MDS, these measures may include medicines and transfusions.


Medicines used in supportive care for MDS include the following:

  • The growth factor erythropoietin (EPO) to increase your red blood cells
  • The growth factor granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) or granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) to increase your white blood cells
  • Medicines to manipulate your immune system
  • Medicines that may reduce your need for transfusions, such as lenalidomide (Revlimid) and antithymocyte globulin (ATG)
  • Antibiotics and antiviral drugs to fight infections that your white blood cells cannot fight on their own


Transfusions are used to add red blood cells or platelets to your bloodstream if medicines do not increase your levels enough. Frequent transfusions of RBCs may cause too much iron to build up in your body. If this happens, you may need chelation therapy, which means taking medicines (deferoxamine or deferasirox) that help your body expel excess iron through your urine.

American Cancer Society
Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation
National Cancer Institute
National Comprehensive Cancer Network