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myelodysplastic syndrome
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myelodysplastic syndrome

My husband is a Vietnam Veteran diagnosed last November with MDS by VA doctors.  Is MDS cancer?  Is there an association with Agent Orange which contains benzene?
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Dear Cindy,

Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) encompass several different blood disorders that result from a primary problem of bone marrow dysfunction.  It is often considered a "pre-cancer"; many patients with MDS can progress to acute leukemia.  Agent Orange has been associated with both MDS and with acute leukemia.

There are different types of MDS and the behavior of the disease can vary much from one patient to another.  Some patients only require transfusions or growth factor support for several years, while other patients can present with much more agressive disease and require chemotherapy.

Currently, allogeneic stem cell transplant is the only potential cure, but it is a difficult treatment and not all patients can tolerate it.  There is much research currently being done to find more effective treatments for MDS. I would encourage you and your husband to discuss with your physician regarding any clinical trials that your husband may be eligible for.  

Best regards.
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