Bloodwork is typically the first step in making an MDS diagnosis. If a physician suspects that a patient might have a myelodysplastic syndrome, he or she will typically take a medical history, then request a blood test known as a complete blood count (CBC) to measure the patient’s red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet counts. If any of these counts are unusually low, additional testing can be ordered to determine the cause.
After a complete blood count, further tests that can be used to confirm or rule out an MDS diagnosis include:
- A secondary blood test to rule out more common conditions, such as vitamin deficiencies and thyroid problems
- A blood smear to determine if any of a patient’s red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets have an unusual shape or size when viewed beneath a microscope
- A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy to analyze the appearance of the patient’s bone marrow tissue, confirm blood cell counts and complete a check for specific genes and proteins
- A chromosomal analysis to help distinguish between MDS and other blood disorders (chromosome testing can also help differentiate between primary and secondary myelodysplastic syndromes)
Once an MDS diagnosis is confirmed, a physician will usually request another type of test in which a pathologist checks for specific types of proteins on the surface of a patient’s MDS cells. This test, known as immunophenotyping, will determine the specific syndrome that a patient has developed.
When a patient comes to Moffitt Cancer Center with an existing or suspected MDS diagnosis, all of his or her lab and blood tests are performed in a single, convenient location, and the results are analyzed by a team of skilled diagnostic experts. This enables us to provide prompt and accurate diagnostic services, accelerating the delivery of results so that patients can quickly get the answers they deserve.