Myelodysplastic Syndrome Overview

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After Treatment TOPICS

If treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome stops working

If your myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) does not improve with one treatment, it is often possible to try another treatment plan to help you live longer and feel better. But if you have tried many different treatments without improvement, your disease may be resistant to treatment. If this happens, it's important to weigh the possible benefits of a new treatment against the downsides. Everyone has their own way of looking at this.

This is likely to be the hardest part of your battle with MDS – when you have been through many treatments and nothing is working anymore. Your doctor may offer you new options, but at some point you may need to think about whether that treatment is likely to improve your health or change your outcome or survival.

No matter what you decide to do, you need to feel as good as you can. Make sure you are asking for and getting treatment for any symptoms you might have, such as nausea or pain. This type of treatment is called palliative care.

Palliative care helps relieve symptoms, but is not meant to cure the disease. It can be given along with cancer treatment, or can even be cancer treatment. The difference is its purpose; the main purpose of palliative care is to improve the quality of your life or help you feel as good as you can for as long as you can.

Sometimes the treatments used to control your symptoms are the same as those used to treat cancer. For instance, radiation might be used to help relieve bone pain caused by cancer that has spread to the bones. Or chemotherapy might be used to help shrink a tumor and keep it from blocking the bowels. But this is not the same as treatment to try to cure the cancer.

At some point, you may want to think about hospice care. This is treatment that focuses on quality rather than length of life. Most of the time, it is given at home. Your cancer may be causing problems that need to be managed, and hospice is concerned with your comfort. You should know that while getting hospice care often means the end of treatments such as chemo and radiation, it doesn’t mean you can’t have treatment for the problems caused by your cancer or other health problems. You can learn more about hospice in our documents called Hospice Care and Nearing the End of Life.

Staying hopeful is important, too. Your hope for a cure may not be as bright, but there is still hope for good times with family and friends – times that are filled with joy and meaning. Pausing at this time in your cancer treatment gives you a chance to focus on the most important things in your life. Now is the time to do some things you’ve always wanted to do and to stop doing the things you no longer want to do. Though the cancer may be beyond your control, there are still choices you can make.

Last Medical Review: 02/27/2014
Last Revised: 04/03/2014