MDS World Awareness Day Date in the current year: October 25, 2024

MDS World Awareness Day MDS World Awareness Day is observed on October 25 to draw attention to a group of rare blood cancers that affect immature blood cells in the bone marrow. It was established by the MDS Alliance with the help of MDS patient supports group from around the world.

The acronym MDS stands for “myelodysplastic syndrome”. MDS is a form of blood cancer in which the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow become abnormal and do not mature into healthy blood cells. This results in reduced numbers of one or more types of blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and/or platelets). In some patients, MDS may progress into acute myeloid leukemia.

MDS is asymptomatic at early stages and presents with non-specific symptoms at later stages. Common signs and symptoms of MDS include fatigue, shortness of breath, unusual bruising, bleeding disorders, frequent infections, and anemia. The symptoms depend on the type of blood cells affected by MDS. Tiredness and shortness of breath are associated with anemia (low red blood cell count), infections with leukopenia (low white cell count), and bruising and bleeding with thrombocytopenia (low platelet count). Due to the non-specific symptoms of the disease, mild cases of MDS can stay undetected for years.

MDS typically doesn’t have an identifiable cause, but it does have a number of risk factors, which include previous radiation therapy or chemotherapy and exposure to toxic chemicals (benzene, mercury, lead, pesticides, tobacco smoke, xylene). MDS resulting from one of the risk factors is sometimes referred to as secondary MDS. Most patients diagnosed with MDS are aged 60 or more, although the condition can occur in younger adults and even children.

MDS has no known cure; the main goals of MDS management are to mitigate symptoms, prevent or at least slow down progression to acute myeloid leukemia, and improve quality of life and overall survival. MDS treatment options depend on the subtype of the disease, patients’ risk group, and their age and general fitness level. They include stem cell transplantation, chemotherapy, medications, and supportive care such as blood transfusions.

The MDS Alliance is an umbrella organization of national MDS patient organizations from across the globe. It founded MDS World Awareness Day, sometimes referred to as simply MDS Awareness Day, in 2016 in order to educate people about MDS, its signs, symptoms, prognosis and treatment options, as well as to support people with MDS and their caregivers.

Many MDS patient support groups, healthcare organizations, and other stakeholders organize MDS World Awareness Day events to spread awareness of the disease and raise funds for MDS research. They include concerts, charity walks, social media campaigns, flashmobs, and other events and activities.

You can observe MDS Awareness Day by learning more about the disease and encouraging others to get educated, donating to an MDS patient support organization, and raising awareness on social media with the hashtag #WorldMDSAwarenessDay.

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