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Cancer Health Center

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Myelodysplastic Syndromes Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Myelodysplastic Syndromes


Risk Factors

Approximately 90% of MDS cases occur de novo with no identifiable cause. Potential environmental risk factors for developing MDS include exposure to the following:[7,8]

  • Tobacco smoke.
  • Ionizing radiation.
  • Organic chemicals (e.g., benzene, toluene, xylene, and chloramphenicol).
  • Heavy metals.
  • Herbicides.
  • Pesticides.
  • Fertilizers.
  • Stone and cereal dusts.
  • Exhaust gases.
  • Nitro-organic explosives.
  • Petroleum and diesel derivatives.

Related Summary

A PDQ summary containing information about myelodysplastic syndromes in children is:

  • Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia/Other Myeloid Malignancies.


  1. Ma X, Does M, Raza A, et al.: Myelodysplastic syndromes: incidence and survival in the United States. Cancer 109 (8): 1536-42, 2007.
  2. Sekeres MA, Schoonen WM, Kantarjian H, et al.: Characteristics of US patients with myelodysplastic syndromes: results of six cross-sectional physician surveys. J Natl Cancer Inst 100 (21): 1542-51, 2008.
  3. Tuncer MA, Pagliuca A, Hicsonmez G, et al.: Primary myelodysplastic syndrome in children: the clinical experience in 33 cases. Br J Haematol 82 (2): 347-53, 1992.
  4. Gyger M, Infante-Rivard C, D'Angelo G, et al.: Prognostic value of clonal chromosomal abnormalities in patients with primary myelodysplastic syndromes. Am J Hematol 28 (1): 13-20, 1988.
  5. Tiu RV, Gondek LP, O'Keefe CL, et al.: Prognostic impact of SNP array karyotyping in myelodysplastic syndromes and related myeloid malignancies. Blood 117 (17): 4552-60, 2011.
  6. Nand S, Godwin JE: Hypoplastic myelodysplastic syndrome. Cancer 62 (5): 958-64, 1988.
  7. Du Y, Fryzek J, Sekeres MA, et al.: Smoking and alcohol intake as risk factors for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Leuk Res 34 (1): 1-5, 2010.
  8. Strom SS, Gu Y, Gruschkus SK, et al.: Risk factors of myelodysplastic syndromes: a case-control study. Leukemia 19 (11): 1912-8, 2005.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: 8/, 015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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